Newly reelected Labour Party MP for Christchurch East, Lianne Dalziel, has given an indication that she may run for Mayor against Bob Parker in the 2013 local body elections. The current parliamentary term lasts until 2014.
“I will stay full term but I’m not going to rule out going for the mayoralty because I don’t know what’s going to happen to the [electorate] boundaries… Obviously I wouldn’t stand for mayor if I intended to stand for an electorate seat.” – Lianne Dalziel
Dalziel has been critical of the current plans for light rail in Christchurch. Whether that means she is critical of any or all major improvements to public transport or not remains to be seen. We need a game changer. Parker is offering something, so an opponent needs to offer something else, not just oppose it.
The attitude of many local left-wing local politicians toward transport issues in this city has been highly unusual and disappointing. During the 2010 elections Jim Anderton was dismissive of transport as a major election issue, other than minor improvements to the bus system and a continuation of current policy (i.e. roads and auto-dependence). It is slightly ironic that the biggest champion of sustainable transport and urban development policy in Christchurch is the supposed right-wing tyrant Bob Parker. Like the Labour Party in the general election, local left-wing politicians seem intent on political point scoring rather than educating themselves about, and arguing for, the real issues. It is little wonder why “The Peoples Republic of Christchurch” went blue in 2011.
Transport is a big issue in Christchurch now, especially after the recent disaster that was the earthquakes, and something must be done as we look forward to the future. Current schemes (i.e. the Draft Plan) elevate the importance of public transport and seek to improve the transport network as a whole across multiple modes. This is crucial to creating a world-class, sustainable, forward-thinking city that people want to live in, work in, play in, visit, etc. The community has shown an overhwelming desire to utilise the rail network for public transport npurposes. Blindly opposing that is not productive, unless a well-reasoned argument that looks to the future and proposes a creditable and well supported alternative, is put forward. Ultimately, as I have said before, it must surely no longer be about whether we do it or not, but rather about how we go about it. No matter who from the left decides to run against Parker in 2013, I hope that they bare this in mind. They could do a lot worse than taking a leaf out of Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s book.
I have also been disappointed with the Greens in their approach toward Christchurch transport issues. This is New Zealand’s second city, yet time and time again it has been ignored while focus is placed upon Auckland and Wellington, including during the 2011 campaign – remember they have produced ‘transport plans’ for both northern cities, and launched individual transport campaigns on buses in each city respectively for the 2011 campaign. Where was Christchurch’s bus launch? Disappointing, as with over 10 percent of New Zealand’s population there are big gains to be made in greater Christchurch for the Greens, and on the back of the support for the draft Central City Plan and ‘Share an Idea’ concept they really could have gained some serious support. Perhaps local Greens are stuck in the same time-eddy as their Labour counterparts?
Keeping my political hat on, I think the Labour Party would be absolutely silly not to go with David Shearer for leader. I see that his bid is gaining momentum in the media, which only confirms his appeal to the public. Labour needs a shake-up and a fresh approach, and I can’t see either of the other Davids doing that unfortunately. It would simply be another three years of more of the same, guaranteed. RoNS for Africa.