Opinion: Has Chu forgotten about the ratepayers?

Catherine Chu. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Catherine Chu. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Catherine Chu has made another public relations gaffe in her relatively short political career.

In December, just weeks after being elected to the Christchurch City Council and Canterbury District Health Board, it was announced she had won the nomination for National’s Port Hills candidate in the 2020 general election.

That was a surprise. There had been no mention she had other political aspirations leading up to the city council elections.

It became a little harder to digest when it was also revealed she had been in the mix for the Port Hills nomination since April 2019.

If she had made this public, would she have received the votes that won her the Riccarton Ward seat on council? Possibly not.

Questioned by the media at the time how she would juggle her ratepayer-funded $114,000 city councillor role with the demands of campaigning to win the Port Hills seat, Chu said she had the energy and time.

I’m sure she has. Chu is a very capable individual, with a good business brain, who may have much to offer from a political standpoint for many years to come.

But Christchurch ratepayers may have reason to feel a little short-changed over the loyalty Chu has shown them.

Within weeks of being elected, she was already focusing on other priorities.

Ratepayers are paying her wages to help run the city, but she may end up abandoning them just a year into her three-year council tenure. Have ratepayers got value for money?

If she is elected to Parliament, there will be a by-election to find another person to represent the Riccarton Ward, which will come at a cost of about $60,000 to ratepayers.

Chu has clearly had a bet each way over where her political future lies. It is ratepayers who are likely to fund that bet.

The Port Hills seat has been a Labour stronghold. But boundary changes and the retirement of long-time MP Ruth Dyson makes it vulnerable.

If Chu doesn’t take the seat, there is a high chance she will make the National list, and get into Parliament that way. It will be goodbye to her city council role.

Last week, it was revealed Chu’s Port Hills campaign flyer doesn’t mention her city council or health board roles.

It does mention her other job as an “authorised financial adviser with a major bank".

Chu told media she had nothing to hide. There simply wasn’t enough room on the flyer to say she is a city councillor and health board member.

Maybe, but I hope she hasn’t forgotten about the ratepayers already. They are still paying her wages.


Email your views in 150 words or less on city councillor Catherine Chu’s bid for Parliament.

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