As predicted, Jim Anderton has announced he is running for Mayor of Christchurch. His ticket will be “The People’s Mayor” – a slogan used by Dick Hubbard in Auckland.
It reminds me of the maxim about names of countries. Any country that insists in having “democratic” in its name, basically never is. And if they also have “people’s” in their name, they invariably oppress the people. Hence North Korea is called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Other examples were how Poland was called the People’s Republic of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Now this does not mean Jim is going to institute single party rule, it just is a reminder about how people use the term “people’s” when they wish to hide behind it. I suggest people chat to some former Alliance activists about how much Jim cared about involving them in decision making
He is insisting that if he runs, he will not resign as an MP, but do both jobs. Now I think one can reasonably assert it is possible to be, for example, a junior backbencher and a city councillor. Tough, but not impossible. But to assert that one can be Mayor of New Zealand’s second largest city, and also a party leader in Parliament shows what Jim really thinks of the people. The Mayor got paid salary and fees in the last year of $215,000 and Jim is maintaining that it is a part-time job.
Jim will in fact be a triple dipper. Because he will also be maintaining the fiction he is a party leader, and attract appropriate funding for that role. So what will be the total cost to the taxpayer of Jim continuing as an MP and party leader for a year, if he is elected. It is:
- Salary $144,500
- Superannuation $33,235
- Personal Expenses $14,800
- Leader’s Budget $164,320
- Research Budget $20,000
- Support Budget $64,260
- Staff $158,500
- Travel/Accom $73,827
- Communications $13,942
That is a total cost of $689,384 or almost $700,000.
Now of course some of these costs would be incurred by a new MP, if Anderton wins and resigned. But the difference is he or she would not also be Mayor of Christchurch, and Parliament and his or her electorate would be getting more of their time in return for that investment.
This is simply wrong, and Anderton’s offer to donate his salary doesn’t make it any less so. The people of Christchurch deserve their mayor’s full attention. Likewise, the people of Wigram and those who voted Progressive last election deserve their MP’s full attention. While Anderton says he can cope with both jobs, no-one will believe that, and if he is elected, someone will feel shortchanged. As for his misplaced sense of frugality, screw the money. It’s democracy, and you pay whatever it costs to deliver it.
But in addition to being wrong, its also stupid. Who wants half a mayor, or one with an eye on Wellington as well as Christchurch? Anderton has just given people a solid reason not to vote for him.
But the last word of Jim’s mayoral ambitions should go to a former Prime Minister – David Lange.In his book “My Life” he wrote of Jim’s bid to be Mayor of Auckland in 1974. Lange was also standing on the ticket:
“Like the other candidates, I contributed $50 to pay for an advertisement in the New Zealand Herald in support of the Labour ticket. When I opened the paper to look at our advertisement I saw a photograph of Jim Anderton and no mention of any other candidates. Here was a warning of much to come.”
Need more be said!Tags: Christchurch, Jim Anderton