An absence of agility
Requests for the Prime Minister to attend Auckland are underpinned by the correct instinct. It is clear there has been a failure of alignment between Covid decision-makers and those of us whose livelihoods and very survival is threatened.
In his book "Doom -The Politics of Catastrophe", Niall Ferguson's comprehensive review of past pandemics and the failure of governments identifies a specific cause – middle management decision-making.
Labour has embraced a technocratic approach to governance. This relies on the State Services Commissioner and his public service leadership for decision-making. This advice has generally been of very poor quality and simplistic.
Rather than insisting that the default position for every piece of advice to ministers is to be: restoring those responsibilities and freedoms to which all NZ citizens are entitled in a democracy – the reverse has been the case.
There has been a lack of forward-looking risk management, a fear of innovation, a lack of experience of managing pro-actively in the presence of uncertainty, an absence of agility. In normal times these are not of great import for public servants; during Covid they are central to effective policy.
Don Cowie, Remuera.
It is concerning that falsehoods regarding the vaccine and Covid are gaining traction in New Zealand. I am a doctor in the public hospital system and I have recently dealt with three anti-vaxxers (for non-Covid related conditions).
I explored these patients' reluctance and it seems they are getting their information from extremely unreliable sources such as Facebook. Certain names kept cropping up including that of a lawyer.
I question why a person can be sued for libel and thus hurting someone's reputation, but they cannot be sued for causing actual physical harm by spreading lies. I am sure there will be a free speech argument made but surely when such outrageous claims are made that result in harm there should be a method of redress. Is it time we looked at the law? I eagerly await the opinions of the legal fraternity.
Dr Vincent Fong, Remuera.
Destined for better
Destiny Church operates a "Man Up" programme to counsel men to stop violent offending, especially within the whānau. A few months ago, I saw a client for whom I had acted several years before, who had turned his life around through this course and with the support of his stoic wife. I was coming out of a prison visit, having seen another client, while he was going in, on a pastoral visit. We greeted each other with joy; he was a changed human being.
The protests in the Domain, with a strong Destiny Church flavour, are puzzling. The good neighbour principle evident in the "Man Up" programme is missing here. Indeed the correct place to protest is via fast-track judicial review, before our stoutly independent judiciary. Wilful non-compliance with the lockdown rules seems to fly in the face of the good neighbour principle and invites enforcement by the authorities, by the same independent judiciary, irrespective of the profile of the church leaders.
Millions are affected by Covid-19 in Aotearoa-New Zealand, and exposure and transmission will only prolong things. A thoughtful and respectful gender-neutral application of the core "Man Up" principles might help.
Richard Pidgeon, Mairangi Bay.
Scomo's lukewarm approach to the COP26 Glasgow climate conference was predictable. Australia exports lots and lots of coal.
About two and a half years ago when the new Adani coal mine in Queensland was given the go-ahead, on local media politicians of all stripes were almost wetting themselves with excitement. Jobs! Money!
Reports also of subsequent CO2 emissions and more global warming? Not a peep.
This huge mine will supply a new coal-burning power plant in India for about the next 50 years.
Dave Spiers, Henderson.
Aspiration and reality
I note the dreams and aspirations of the rich West about how they will prevent climate change. However, I have yet to see any suggestion about how the developing world will cope.
Those countries will not accept being permanently destitute, and they are also insufficiently stupid to believe that their requirements will be met by sunbeams and gentle breezes.
Perhaps that is why they are embracing Chinese coal-fired power plants and Russian 1200 MW nuclear power plants.
G. N. Kendall, Rothesay Bay.
Fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas - are not the problem, they are a symptom. The real problem is energy demand which requires the consumption of fossil fuels.
There are lots of ways we can reduce our demand for energy without materially reducing our standard of living.
I suspect, for instance, that the rapidly rising cost of petrol will do more to reduce carbon emissions than all the electric vehicles on the road. We will all be asking ourselves "Do I really need to make this car trip?".
We will need fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. You can't make steel without coal. You can't run a commercial kitchen without gas. Oil is used to make thousands of products from dyes to pharmaceuticals. Indeed, the CEO of a major global oil company once said that he thought it was a criminal waste to burn such a precious resource.
To suggest we should stop searching and mining such resources is foolish and, of itself, won't make an iota of difference to greenhouse gas emissions.
David Morris, Hillsborough.
Missing in Glasgow
We were very disappointed to learn of Jacinda Ardern's refusal to attend COP26, with some excuse about hosting some kind meeting with manuka honey growers.
So much for New Zealand and your claims to be so progressive. You can't even be bothered to attend a vital climate conference. Even Australia turned up.
I'm lobbying for Her Majesty to excommunicate you.
Jon Redmond, Leeds, United Kingdom.
Your article regarding a retreat centre for emergency services first responders (NZ Herald, November 1) reminded me of the limited attention paid to the exposure risks of the partners and families of their first responders. Partners of first responders are potentially at risk of experiencing secondary traumatic stress.
Recent research conducted with the partners of first responders (Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, St John Ambulance, and New Zealand Defence Force) found up to 21 per cent of respondents recorded scores (from "moderate" to "severe") that may indicate a posttraumatic stress response due to learning of their first responder partners' experiences. These results are not diagnostic for PTSD but do indicate the potential for being impacted in a distressing way by their partners' traumatic work experiences. Respondents also reported a lack of information for families from the emergency response organisations. At least 90 per cent said they had no information about stress management from their partner's employers and had received no welcome or orientation to their partner's organisations. Some very small changes have taken place as a result of this research, however, there is much that can still be done
Dr Peter Huggard, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland.
Praise for Nimbys
Plans by Auckland Council to transfer more power to the unelected Auckland Transport organisation to remove parking — and to consent buildings without car parks — is part of an unrelenting attack on our democracy at all levels. So-called Nimbys are what made Auckland the great city it is and why people want to live here. Give us our democracy and voice back — we deserve no less.
Mike Single, Bayswater
Chatter in the trees
I live next door to a hoon of kaka (yes, that's apparently one of the collective nouns for kaka. The other is cacophony and neither is very flattering) and you want to hear what they think about a bloody bat winning bird of the year.
They're always getting bad press for being raucously noisy (natural exuberance is what they call it) and were probably never in the running anyway - but mate, a bat; how does that work?
However, now the glass ceiling has been cracked they're going to have a go at next years Crufts in the small black-feathered monotreme division.
Mike Newland, Matakana.
While many councils agree that a review of water infrastructure is necessary, the majority have made known their reasons for opposing the Three Waters proposal. Is democracy dead?
Councils were promised adequate time to consult their ratepayers on this wide-reaching proposal which was not part of the Government's manifesto. However, their requests have been ignored and government now plans to rush through this legislation - despite its adverse consequences for many councils. According to Mayor Phil Goff, Auckland's water assets are valued at $10 billion but Auckland will receive only $509 million when ownership of these assets is transferred to a new government body. Councils believe that centralised government will not understand varying local issues around the country. Furthermore, they believe the Scottish report figures that indicated the cost of necessary reforms are not accurate - as Scottish geography and water management differ from those in New Zealand. Why the indecent haste to push through such a major change to local government?
Janie Weir, Newmarket.
Regarding government taking over council functions by decree, may I suggest this compromise?
Those councils wanting central control of their water issues agree to hand them to the Crown who will appoint a small team of experts to manage them. Those councils could be paid a proportion of the proposed sweetener on offer in return.
Once other councils see how efficiently the new authority is running water services and note the promised savings made, they will no doubt be queuing up to sign away their assets as well. This could be done by referendum at the local body elections which would ensure that the democracy is preserved.
At the end of the day there are likely to be a few pockets of resistance and they should be left to manage their own affairs.
Gavin Baker, Glendowie.
A bit of a stretch
The Plain Language Bill coming into Parliament will need teeth.
The worst offenders may face a prison term but the good news is that, if they are prepared to undergo PAT (Polysyllabics and Acronym Therapy) while in prison, it may result in a shortening of their sentences.
Peter Lange, Mt Eden.
Short & sweet
At the moment, Glasgow would be marvellous for hot air balloonists who would be boosted skywards as they floated over the city. Still, as some wags have commented, Scotland could do with a little warming. B. Watkin, Devonport.
Does a mammal winning Bird of the Year reflect a widespread, Covid-inspired willingness to eschew reality and embrace fantasy - to get us through these challenging times? Cam Calder, Devonport.
The opinion piece by Kushan Sugathapala (NZ Herald, November 2) on social justice issues contained approximately 750 words outlining the disadvantages in our society but didn't include the word "education" which could solve a multitude of problems. Mike Brooke, New Plymouth.
What is it that light rail can do that an electric bus can't? Brian Cuthbert, Army Bay.
The new catchphrase is "embed the changes" and Auckland can't ease alert levels and open retail outlets until the changes are "embedded". When can I get a haircut... before or after Christmas? Adriana Kaay, Half Moon Bay.
Auckland is beginning to feel like "the forgotten" or is it "forbidden" city? I hope they find the key to open it again soon. Alison Feeney, Remuera.
Congratulations Auckland on getting to Level Pi - 3.14. Glenn Forsyth, Taupō.
The Premium Debate
Unbelievable that NZ governments have taken several decades to realise the detrimental impact this duopoly has on consumers. NZ groceries are amongst the most expensive in the world. Mark H.
This is well overdue but it will take time to filter through to lower prices for consumers (although suppliers will be better paid). Trust it will cover anti-competitive land banking by supermarkets in conjunction with council rules to stop competitors setting up shop. Clem D.
It's an utter disgrace that Kiwis have to suffer from expensive food, where NZ produces enough for 10 times its population. Poor families in the bottom decile have only one meal per day. Ask their children how it's like to grow up like this. The stranglehold on the supply chain by the oligopolies, some foreign, rather than supply, is the only cause of the expensiveness of food. It's indefensible that their profit is taking precedence over the nation's welfare. Vincent C.
These supermarket companies operate an anticompetitive duopoly. They control 80 per cent of a market that everyone relies on and push up prices together. The state is required both ethically and legally to intervene. Steve E.
A lot of comments wanting state controls overriding our supermarket sector. Free markets operate far more efficiently. There's no argument with that - state control of food almost always results in shortages and famines. And to suggest the Government forces private Kiwi families (New World and Pak'n Save owners) to sell their businesses is just ridiculous. The likely buyers would be international retailers. Grant H.
This is not the subject but it will not have escaped anyone that two major banks have both recorded a $1b profit in the last week for their last trading year. Both up around 50 per cent in profit and they both say that market conditions have helped produce that result, nevertheless the profit is pretty astronomical compared to, say, the Countdown posted profit of $300m last year. Paul E.
Just remember that the Commerce Commission is to blame for a large part of the problem. Not so many years ago these groups existed: Foodstuffs with New World and Pak N Save, Progressive with Foodtown, Woolworths and 3 Guys. Five separate groups. Over time the Commerce Commission allowed Progressive to buy 3 Guys and Countdown. Then allowed Woolworths to buy Progressive. This meant the industry went from five groups to the current two. Ian U.