Christchurch needs a mayor with the will to dream and courage to fight

By   /   September 28, 2016  /   11 Comments

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The Christchurch earthquakes that violently shook the ground underneath our feet did not distinguish between the rich and poor, East and West.

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The Christchurch earthquakes that violently shook the ground underneath our feet did not distinguish between the rich and poor, East and West.

We all felt fearful and anxious for the future and our only comfort was that we were in it together.

The earthquakes reminded us of the value of belonging to strong communities that cared for each other at the moment of need.

We moved forward united, sharing our ideas about the future of our beloved city with the sort of vigour and commitment that was never seen before.

But the pain and opportunities that came after the earthquakes were not spread equally and today we stay divided as a city of haves and have-nots.

So, how did that happen?

It happened the moment the government decided the city’s anchor projects should be around building big projects like the convention centre rather than rebuilding communities.

It happened while we were too busy fighting the EQC and our own individual insurance companies to realize that our local democracy was under attack.

It happened the moment the mayor we elected to fight on our behalf resigned herself to the fact that her hands were tied by the central government and there was nothing she could do to change it.

Is our mayor passionate and hardworking? Yes, absolutely.

Does she have the best interest of Christchurch at heart? Yes, definitely.

Is she the right person to lead the city into its next chapter? No, not really.

I have sat through three mayoral debates by now and in every debate, Lianne Dalziel, has spent most of her time trying to convince the audience how little power she has.

Yes, it is true that our mayor has only one vote but she also has a powerful voice that she can use to challenge and change the system.

The mayoral candidate, John Minto, is absolutely right to say that the moment to be bold and ambitious is now.

A can’t-do attitude is not good enough for Christchurch. We must set our expectations higher and rebuild a city that will be more than just a “pleasant late-20th century city”.

We need our future mayor to have the courage to seek a clear mandate from the people of Christchurch to put communities before corporations.

Yes, the central government is powerful but so are our collective votes.

The cost sharing agreement must be re-negotiated so that ratepayers do not end up subsidizing loss-making projects that ultimately benefit big corporations.

Why can’t we put our council workers on living wage and make our rivers swimmable? Why can’t we keep our assets?

What’s wrong with free buses that save us money by reducing the cost of roading projects? And finally, why can’t we make sure that everyone has a roof over their head?

All of the above goals are achievable and befitting of a modern, forward thinking city.

The rebuild so far says nothing about the incredible energy and creativity that emerged after the earthquakes.

The concrete and glass monsters rising up in the city centre say nothing about the history of this magical place and the true aspirations of its communities.    

But it is not too late to change path.

All we need is a mayor who has the will to dream and the courage to fight.

To achieve more, we must expect more.  Our current mayor has no fight left in her.

We need a new visionary mayor to take our city forward and make it a world-leading people’s city.

That mayor is John Minto.

 

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About the author

Donna Miles

Donna Miles is a British-born, Iranian-bred, New Zealand citizen with a strong interest in human rights, justice and equality issues.

11 Comments

  1. Blake says:

    I believe that Lianne is someone who wants what is best but lacks the massive will and strength to stand up against what holds things back. Many politicians are in the pocket of these huge businesses and mega corporations that control the direction of national and local politics.
    Corporate owned Lobbyists have great power and are paid well to influence their mostly greedy agendas.
    Lots of interest in Christchurch with priorities gone a bit astray.

    John Minto clearly is a strong – spined visionary and is willing to focus attention on the Dirty Politics and greed that seems to be so prevalent now all over the show. He deserves to be the next mayor and should be if the voters would wake up and look at the facts and realities of why Christchurch is not moving forward as it should and still sees so many suffering that should not be.

    The wealthy elite are doing fine but the rest of us 99% ers need better representation and we need better leadership.
    Christchurch needs a mayor with heart and strength and compassion – things the Natzi led government are greatly lacking in.
    Their strengths lie in being good little suck up puppets for their corporate and banker buddies looking to make a killing on our many resources.
    Bet they have made tons of bucks in Christchurch meanwhile many folks still suffer and many families have broken up and many suicides etc. .

    • Donna Miles says:

      It is hard to break out of a neoliberal system designed to exploit and marginalise people- but try we must. After all, there is a lady buried in our city who refused to take ‘no’ for an answer and led the biggest democratic change in NZ by giving women the vote. Christchurch can lead again.

    • Patrick says:

      I think you all may be missing something.
      Let’s take a closer look at just one of John’s promises.
      Apart from cracked sewer pipes contaminating our rivers, the main problem is stormwater which currently runs into our rivers and streams as it does all over New Zealand and indeed the world. This runoff contains every contaminant that is on our roads and roofs – oil, rubber, cigarette butts animal and bird feces, dead animals and a host of other contaminants.
      That is the principal reason these rivers have been unswimmable for the last 100 years.
      Make no mistake about it – there is only one way to make the Avon and Heathcote rivers swimmable again and that is by constructing a completely separate stormwater system which channels all stormwater to the coast, where ideally it should be treated before it’s piped into the ocean. Another billion dollars or so.
      It has to be separate as the current sewerage system is far too small to cope with greywater, sewerage and stormwater, nor could the Bromley treatment system handle the extra.
      This would entail hundreds of kms of large underground piping with huge pumping stations (with seive systems so the pumps won’t clog.) to move the stormwater under pressure as they obviously will not have the capacity the rivers do.
      This would be the single biggest engineering project ever attempted in a NZ city and there is only one place to put these pipes – under recently repaired roads – and to keep the system from completely breaking down in a storm would be challenging to say the least.
      There is no other way to keep the contaminants out of our rivers and streams.
      Forget the Anchor projects – they are small beer – this one is the biggie.
      This one Promise from John Minto – if carried out – would bankrupt the city and there would certainly be no money to fix the still broken East where I happen to live and pay rates.
      I wonder how many posters to this blog actually pay rates – or rent as that is the same – in Christchurch, or are posting from other parts of NZ and thus will not be required to help pay for John’s promises.
      Pretty easy to say what should be done in a city already deeply in debt, when you don’t have to think through the process required to achieve the promise or pay the bill!
      We need a mayor with the will to dream, but definitely do not need a mayor who is a dreamer.
      Leanne has been no friend of the East and will not get many votes from our side of town but I am not going to vote for a candidate whose promises will bankrupt our city either.

  2. CLEANGREEN says:

    She (Lainne) was weak when in Transport issues in the Clark Government on Transport select committee so John is the one who must take Christchurch back for the people and not build more roads for trucks and save our rail and environment.

    • Donna Miles says:

      John’s ambitions for Christchurch are in line with a socially responsive city. We have an opportunity to be a model for other cities around the world: a sustainable, smart, and ecological city that responds, first and foremost, to the wellbeing of its communities.

  3. Mike the Lefty says:

    Whoever was mayor was going to be a villein to the feudal lord Baron Gerry Brownlee.
    John won’t win because the comfort zone westies, who would die from panic attacks if he did win, will vote for any candidate who will play second fiddle to the Baron.
    That definitely excludes John.
    But a strong vote for John would definitely send some messages and shivers up the spine for the Beehive Boys.

    • Donna Miles says:

      Mike, you’re right to say that there are a lot of people here who have an unjustified fear of John Minto. It goes to show how effective propaganda can be. John is nothing like the impression many people have of him. Certainly not a “screaming skull”.

    • Patrick says:

      I think enough people will be able to cost John’s promises on the back of an envelope, shudder at the cost and vote accordingly. I predict that he will not get a strong vote.
      Nothing really do do with the Westies – just a pass grade in basic arithmetic.
      I personally have no problem with the far left as they are no more-or less-looney than the extreme right and I guess you have to have the extremes at both ends.
      But I do have a problem with the fact that they seem to have no understanding of how money is created as generally they have never been self employed, so take John’s promises at face value and applaud promises which clearly cannot be paid for.

  4. countryboy says:

    It’s this simple. Lianne Dalziel = neo liberal greed fetishist and to facilitate that greed, she has a law degree. Just what Christchurch needs; another greedy, neoliberal lawyer.
    John Minto= A human being with the best intentions proven by an unbroken record in giving a fuck about his fellow humans and no fool either.

    If Christchurch people do truly want change in the way their politics will represent them then they must take a leap of measured faith and try a on a brand new wardrobe.

    And what I find deeply interesting is that if John Minto can pull off the mayoralty, what follow-on effect might that have for central government?

    If Ch Ch voters want safety, security and a town that’ll evolve into a proper cultural town fuelled by visionaries rather than a matrix of boxes and straight lines designed to house bank slaves and to get them to their debt prisons to work ever harder then vote for John Minto.

    If you like your struggling little city to struggle ever harder and fall further into the gutter to be pillaged by narcissistic egotists then go with who you think you know.

    • Donna Miles says:

      Countryboy, I am also interested in the ripple effect of John Minto’s successful bid for mayoralty. Even if he doesn’t get in, a considerable vote for John will be seen as a powerful message to the government. I hope people are beginning to recognise that without a radical change, we will not be able buckle the trend in rising inequality and catastrophic climate change.

      • Patrick says:

        I notice you have not commented on my post re the biggest budget promise ever made by a mayoral contender – that of making our rivers swimmable. How do you do that without bankrupting the city?