The Press on Christchurch


It will now be possible to consider Dalziel’s criticisms of the recovery process – and they have been many and seem to encompass just about everyone involved – the mayor, the minister, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority – without the thought they are designed to advance any designs on the mayoralty.

And the Council. Dalziel has been pretty relentlessly critical of everyone and everything.

Whether, if Labour were to win power in 2014, Dalziel would be a good choice to take Gerry Brownlee’s job as the minister for earthquake recovery is highly debatable. It is, in any case, a slightly unambitious goal. By the time it could come about, more than 2 1/2 years from now, the hard political and financial decisions on earthquake recovery will largely have been taken. By that time, it must be hoped, the recovery will be well under way and any ministerial involvement will have become peripheral.

Indeed. In fact the big decisions should all be made by mid 2013 I hope.

While Dalziel has many commendable personal qualities – and her energy as a critic of what is being done has been indefatigable – whether she would be the right person for the job is doubtful. She has been a minister before, of course, and though she was competent enough she hardly shone in the role.

That is a bit unfair. While I don’t share her policies, Dalziel was actually an  effective Commerce Minister, and one of the better performing Labour Ministers.

 In addition, her well-signalled party-political partisanship could hinder her capacity to get on with others in a job that requires party politics to be put firmly aside. Her suggestion for some new layer of bureaucracy between the minister and Cera – as if more bureaucracy is what is required – also does not augur well.

I agree. Having the Minister appoint a board who supervise the CERA CEO seems bizarre. You have boards for commercial SOEs, not for government departments.

With Dalziel out of the running, attention can now turn to other possible contenders. While it may be a thankless job in many ways, it is also one of unprecedented opportunity and the incumbent shows no signs of having lost his appetite for it. At this early stage, talk inevitably centres on sitting councillors, and the names of Tim Carter, Peter Beck and Glenn Livingstone have been mentioned. All are very new to the council and their only mark of distinction so far is their inexperience in all the skills that will be needed in the next phase of Christchurch’s recovery. Neither they, nor indeed anyone else on the council, inspires much confidence as a future leader of the city and voters may be forgiven for hoping some better alternatives emerge before the election.

The Council obviously has bitter divisions. A new Mayor from one of those factions, will just compound the frictions. If people want an alternative to Bob Parker, they need someone not currently on Council who has proven leadership experience.