Brownlee: No need to make peace with new Chch mayor

New Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel Photo / Geoff Sloan
New Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel Photo / Geoff Sloan

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says there isn't a need to make peace with new Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel and they can work together to rebuild the city.

Mr Brownlee met the former Labour MP this week for the first time since she was elected mayor last Saturday.

He told TV3's The Nation this morning that the meeting with Ms Dalziel had gone "very well".

"I wouldn't describe it as a peace mission - there was not really a peace to make."

Asked if he could play nicely with Ms Dalziel, Mr Brownlee said he could.

"Look, I think so. I've known Lianne a very long time, not only through politics but other connections as well, so I think there's no issue there.

"In many ways, her experience having been a Cabinet minister, so knowing the systems that I work with, will be as much help to her as it will be to the relationship.

So I'm pretty optimistic about that."

Mr Brownlee said Ms Dalziel had a "great commitment" to the city's recovery phase.

As for the sometimes strained relationship between the council and central government, Mr Brownlee said the difficulties with the previous council were "well understood".

"But I would like to say I always had a good relationship with [outgoing mayor] Bob Parker.

"He did a great job taking us through the worst of the events and was a great communicator through that time, so my optimism about a better relationship with the city council certainly doesn't reflect on Bob."

As for the rebuild, Mr Brownlee said statutory management of the consenting process in Christchurch would remain in place for some time.

He said the current waiting time for consents was about six weeks, which was "far too long" and there was still a huge amount of work to do.

Mr Brownlee said the Government had negotiated the purchase of more than 150 properties in the central city, but had to make nine compulsory acquisitions.

He denied the acquisition prices were too low, saying some people said the prices were too high.

Mr Brownlee said the only thing causing him to lose sleep over the last few years was the delay in making a decision on some 500 homes in the Port Hills.

The Government postponed the Port Hills land zoning review in the wake of a High Court decision that found the Government's offer of a 50 per cent payout to owners of vacant, uninsured red zones properties was unlawful.

Mr Brownlee said it was appealing the decision.

"We need to get all that tidy before we can progress so we don't find ourselves in contempt of the court.

"But [the delay] is extremely hard on those people, and for what it's worth I acknowledge that, but it doesn't make any difference to their circumstances."

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