Opinion: Will the Deon Swiggs saga impact Dalziel?

Revelations Lianne Dalziel was aware of issues surrounding Cr Deon Swiggs as far back as May...
Revelations Lianne Dalziel was aware of issues surrounding Cr Deon Swiggs as far back as May could not have come at a worse time. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Opinion: Whatever way you cut it the Deon Swiggs saga is not a good look for Lianne Dalziel.

Whether this will have an impact on her bid for a third term as mayor remains to be seen.

But revelations Dalziel was aware of issues surrounding Swiggs as far back as May, but didn’t inform councillors, could not have come at a worse time.

The good people of Christchurch are currently deciding who they will vote for at the local body election. That result will be known in 24 days – Saturday, October 12.

Envelopes with voting papers will be sitting on thousands upon thousands of kitchen and lounge tables, waiting to be ticked and put in the post.

The publicity storm which has erupted over Swiggs, who is under investigation for allegedly sending grossly inappropriate messages to three young people, will no doubt be on the minds of voters, and will be a factor in how they vote.

The controversy has a similar ring about it to the one which has engulfed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over what she knew or didn’t know about sexual assault allegations within the Labour Party.

Ardern’s departure to Japan and the United States has given her a breather from the heat she was taking over that storm. Dalziel hasn’t got that luxury.

Dalziel swept into power in 2013 and 2016 with huge majorities. But there is a feeling out in voter-land she does not have that same level of support this time.

It is called voter discontent and the target, whether it be at Government level or local body level, is always the prime minister or mayor. In Christchurch this is not surprising. The city is still embroiled in earthquake matters, rates are rising at an average of

five per cent, roads in some parts of the city remain poor, there’s been the issue for Dalziel of her husband Rob Davidson’s and his connections to Chinese water bottling company Cloud Ocean, and why she did not declare this. The bottling company factor can not be underestimated in this election.


The fact the company was given consents by Environment Canterbury – not the city council – to take billions of litres of water from its Belfast site to be sold overseas will be lost on many voters.

In April, the city council made its view on the consents known when it granted $50,000 to lobby group Aotearoa Water Action to help fight its High Court action against ECan over the granting of more consents. But that too is likely be lost on many voters.

The taking of the water – combined with the temporary chlorination of the city’s water supply (necessary given the state of the well heads) – are probably the two issues which have angered Christchurch people the most in the past three years.

Dalziel and sitting city councillors will feel some of the backlash. And Dalziel has been around for two terms. Voters can be fickle when it comes to longevity of their prime ministers and mayors. But will it be enough though to see her closest rivals Darryll

Park or John Minto sneak into power? And the other questions is: Where did the leak to the media about the Swiggs matter come from and was it designed to derail Dalziel’s campaign? I’m sure there’s a bit of digging going on in certain areas to find out.