New Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel has wasted no time in
calling for an independent audit of the crippled city's
The long-time Labour MP romped to a landslide victory
yesterday, beating her nearest rival by almost 50,000 votes.
The overwhelming majority had a beaming Ms Dalziel itching to
get her feet under the mayoral desk.
Work starts tomorrow, she said, to find out the council's
full obligations for big ticket post-disaster items: new
sports stadium, metro sports facility, arts precinct, city
bus interchange, and the multi-billion dollar underwater
water and sewage network.
"I want to start a process very quickly to bring an internal
body in to have a look at exactly what the financial
situation of the council is," she said yesterday at her
Burwood home, moments after the resounding win at the polls.
"I want to know exactly what we've signed up to with central
Government in terms of the cost sharing agreement [for the
rebuild anchor projects].
"I want to make sure that all of us around the table
understand what that means, in terms of rates obligations
into the future, and also our debt liability."
Just four city councillors retained their posts in
yesterday's first local body elections since the deadly
February 22, 2011 earthquake.
The mixture of new blood and old faces, including former
mayor Vicki Buck, has Ms Dalziel confident that together they
can restore confidence in the embattled council.
Since the devastating earthquakes, the council has been mired
in controversy and in-fighting, including losing its
buildings consents accreditation, and a shamed chief
Last week, outgoing mayor Bob Parker spoke to APNZ about his
disappointment in losing control of the "big decisions" to
central Government relating to the city's $40 billion
But Ms Dalziel said yesterday: "The previous council had
given those (big decisions) away.
"Through circumstances the senior team who had been
negotiating with the Government have signed up to a cost
sharing agreement without really fully explaining or engaging
with the councillors."
A review last year found that the council was "culturally
reluctant" to communicate openly with its residents.
Ms Dalziel wants to change that.
"It's about reclaiming democracy," she said.
"People have felt disempowered and we want to bring the power
back to the people."
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, who she's been
at loggerheads with during her shadow role as Christchurch
East MP, phoned Ms Dalziel on Friday pre-empting her win.
Ms Dalziel said that Mr Brownlee wanted an "early meeting".
And despite their chequered past, she welcomed it and looked
forward to working together in rebuilding the broken city.
"I also want to sit down the central Government to work out a
better way of operating, because this hasn't been a
partnership up to this date," she said.
"The cost sharing agreement hasn't really been an open
process and I want to see what we can do about that."