With the news, it is never the headlines we should be reading. We find the greatest dilemma facing human kind, the greatest attack on our lives, within the Herald’s centre. Summer temperatures have brought fierce heat to the Northern Hemisphere, those unheard of 40-45 degrees. It’s like opening an oven door to check the cake. Here we also find words of wisdom from John Kerry, America’s envoy for climate change: ‘This is not a political issue, not a bilateral issue nor an ideological one. It is real life unfolding before our eyes as a consequence of the choices we make or don’t make’ (World, July 19). The right choices we make will pull back future causes distressing the planet right now. Floods, ice melts, water rises, loss of species are all a cause of an overheated planet. Our future now relies on countries coming together, even small nations like ourselves, to make the hard decisions. It will mean a coalition of like-minded people leading the charge to stop the use of fossil fuels. That’s all we need to do to halt the heat, and allow for us to “carry on”. Emma Mackintosh, Birkenhead.
Coming to terms with the science curriculum comment by Dr Jared Carpendale (NZ Herald, July 19) demonstrates the gaping holes in the formative report commissioned by the Ministry of Education. How important Stem subjects will be in future, who will teach them, what specialised professional knowledge is required for teachers and how much time is required in preparation of said teaching. Carpendale says it seems assessments are being developed while decisions about what and how to teach are still ongoing. It seems as though the Ministry of Education has not consulted, pre-draft, with their science teachers who would have a much better close-up view of the issues. The “conceptual think-tank experts” in the Ministry of Education have presided over dropping New Zealand from OECD top performers of third in maths and fourth in reading in 2000, to now only marginally above the OECD 44 countries’ average in science and reading, while our maths is now below average. The slide will continue because it is baked in at the lower age groups of our education. Because of the “flexibility” of our NCEA assessment system, more and more students graduate with a certificate. Today, roughly 80 per cent of our students leave school with NCEA Level 2, up from 60 per cent two decades ago. While we have dropped the standards to let more through, we are continuing to drop New Zealand down the world stage in educational performance. Gary Carter, Gulf Harbour
Given the Labour Party now acknowledges that New Zealand is “in it”, any offers by political parties to extend personal tax reductions as part of their upcoming election manifesto is probably irresponsible. However, probably no one running the country at present is aware of the fact that over half a century ago, non-resident companies operating in New Zealand were taxed at a rate 5 per cent higher than resident companies. Over the intervening 50-plus years, there would have no doubt been a considerable escalation in the number of such non-resident entities repatriating substantial profits overseas. Re-introduction of such a premium could provide a valuable source of additional taxation revenue to cope with the underfunding of essential services in New Zealand and/or reducing our national debt which has escalated significantly with recent catastrophes. It might also encourage some of such overseas-based operators sucking the juice out of the country to withdraw - as one of the banks threatened to do some years ago, thereby opening up the opportunity for Kiwibank to make a takeover? John Olesen, St Heliers
It is clear that most of your correspondents on taxation don’t know what they are talking about. A recent letter claimed that if every taxpayer got the first $5000 tax-free they would all save $750. Wrong. Most writers who advocate this type of tax relief do not seem to realise that it does not come off the bottom of the income, but off the top. Thus a taxpayer earning $60,000 a year would pay (with ACC included) $11,854 tax. If they receive $5000 tax-free that reduces their taxable income to $55,000 so they pay $10,284 tax, a saving of $1570. Most correspondents also seem not to realise that the greatest winners are those on the top tax rate. For instance someone on $200,000 a year pays $60,113 in tax. On $19,5000 that reduces to $58,163, a saving of $1950. I’m not sure that a win for high-income earners is the outcome tax-free advocates want or expect. David Morris, Hillsborough
I hear complaints have been aired concerning free school lunches being wasted because children don’t like them. If there are people concerned that lunches are being wasted or children not enjoying them please contact the principals concerned. The providers have to provide good lunches or change the provider. Please deal with the problem instead of sending complaints nationwide! Many families are under A LOT of financial strain, prices of fuel, food and everything else going up, and the provision of lunches in schools is a great help. It is not good enough for the children of this nation to be underfed or poorly fed and expected to learn. Great Britain has provided free lunches to their schools since 1947. It is a great relief for many families to have this provision for their children. Any political party expecting votes should not threaten this dire need. It is essential for our children to be well-fed in order for their brains to function well enough to learn. C. Salisbury, South Taranaki.
KiwiSaver and rental bonds
Perhaps it is timely to require MPs to sell their residential property investments. There is a clear conflict of interest when MPs promote tenants dipping into their long-term retirement savings to pay for rent. It reeks of self-interest. It is all the more confusing to witness the ongoing drama around $13K in airport shares when we allow MPs to hold million-dollar residential rental properties and vote on bright-line tests and interest deductibility. Maybe they should be made to invest any sales into KiwiSaver, which will increase the investment in productive assets, and our productivity. Eric Skilling, Milford.
The National Party is proposing to allow under 30-year-olds to access their KiwiSaver to pay for rental bonds. Did they ask the KiwiSaver providers how they felt about this? Do they have the staff available to administer this and what is the additional cost involved? The admin involved will be very time-consuming and costly. The additional cost will ultimately be paid by everyone who has a KiwiSaver. We need politicians who will consider the full ramifications of proposals before suggesting new policies. The National Party are “Off Track” with this idea and need to get “Back on Track”. If they do win the election I think they will conveniently forget this proposal and hope everyone else does. Russ Collins, Takapuna.
SAS veteran care
Homer’s Odyssey of 2500 plus years back sings of the challenges for a soldier to return home, resume a suburban life, and cope with injury. The SAS veterans from Afghanistan are this generation’s such soldiers. Some battle the Government for recognition, while an unknown number have not started or have given up. The previous generation were the Vietnam veterans poisoned with Agent Orange. After many deaths and much obfuscation, Parliament bestirred itself for a public apology, and some payment. For proposed amendments to the Veterans’ Support Act 2014, in June 2020 veterans groups representing thousands prepared carefully, provided written submissions with detailed objections and suggested draft clauses, and made oral presentations to Parliament’s select committee. Their proposals of major importance were continuing quinquennial reviews of the act; proactive efforts to locate veterans; and timeliness in Veterans Affairs responses. On the day the veterans received politeness but no proposal was accepted. Eventually, the claims of this generation of veterans will be recognised, and perhaps an apology offered. The news can be trumpeted at Anzac Day parades. But for many it will come too late, and after years of suffering for them and their families. Still, the shrinkage in the number of living claimants will help keep the entitlements within budget. Gregory Thwaite, Forrest Hill.
Too late for Labour
Labour has suddenly woken up and once more full of great ideas. One wonders why they didn’t apply any of these policies during the last six years. Could it be that there’s an election pending? Chippy needs to realise that the electorate has already crossed the threshold where new promises fail before the implacable logic of “too little, too late”. Once that point is reached, concessions no longer mollify but simply enrage the voters. The polls claim it will be a close-run thing, but it’s only the media that believe in the polls. As Helen Clark found when reaching her use-by date, disaffected Labour voters won’t vote for National or for Act. They simply won’t bother voting at all. William Gardiner, Cable Bay.
I have just driven through Northern Spain and Portugal, and I think we in New Zealand could learn a lot from their construction of motorways. I think the latest problems with the new highway north of Auckland is a classic example of our many problems with a very wet climate, and unstable hill structures. I saw how those countries had built their multi-lane motorways through the hills and mountains in both countries. The motorways were mostly on elevated viaducts traversing the tops of hills and supported by tall columns well anchored into the bedrock below. This system not only provided the traveller a magnificent view, but kept the road well above the local villages and farming activity. Farming and stock movement was able to continue uninterrupted, and the road structure was well above any unstable surface earth movement. Will Menzies, Ōneroa.
Thanks to Middlemore staff
Last Thursday I made a return acquaintance with Middlemore Emergency Department. To put it mildly, the joint was jumping. At 4.30pm, not a seat in the house, and the ambulance delivery was non-stop. Behind the glass and beyond were the overworked, underpaid, dedicated, unflappable, utterly competent, very capable teams of clerical, medical, nursing and resus staff that got me back home. How they stand the pressure, I have no idea. Always caring and polite they deserve our admiration and thanks. Jean Hutchinson, Pukekohe.
Short and sweet
Burglary is rife: Labour is ram-raiding National’s and Act’s policy stores, and appropriating their rhetoric. Their motivation appears to be the publicity that will boost their reputation as an election approaches. J. Livingstone, Ōrākei.
Good on you Labour for a policy on crime (ram-raids) that might actually be appropriate. Shame on you that it took poor polling ahead of an election to listen to the electorate and do what should have been done two years ago. Glenn Pacey, Glendowie.
Just when supermarkets are telling us they feel our pain at the checkout and are doing everything they can to reduce prices, someone in an ivory tower comes up with a decision to waste $40 million on a completely unnecessary name change. No shortage of money for that. Vince West, Milford.
It’s not really going to cost Countdown $400m to change their name back to Woolworths, it’s going to cost their customers. Chris Elias, Mission Bay.
Thanks Auckland Council for wasting more money on something we don’t want and will never use. I am referring to the green food scraps bin delivered today. I said to my wife if we left it outside long enough someone might steal it, but she has brought it inside to use in the laundry to soak clothes. At what cost to suffering ratepayers? Simon Oldham, St Heliers.
It is astounding that Roger Douglas, co-founder of the Act Party, who has announced that he will not be voting Act because their policies represent only the wealthy, has taken 30 years to figure this out, but better late than never. Raewyn Maybury, Tauranga.
David Parker (Letters, July 19), is probably right in that National’s Steven Joyce “enjoyed spending up large on roads in his day” - as do most of us who get to enjoy driving on them. It could also be said that Labour’s Transport Minister of the day enjoyed spending tens of millions on a phantom cycle bridge across the Waitematā Harbour, something no one will get to enjoy. Brian McLachlan, Onerahi.
Neil Anderson has highlighted the perfect solution to traffic cones and potholes: fill the potholes with traffic cones. Rod Emmerson shows what to do if there are insufficient traffic cones - use politicians. John Mihaljevic, Henderson.
On tax advice
Tax-free earnings: (Letters, Murray Hunter July 19). Mr Hunter, I have some sympathy. Rather than vote Act, perhaps just return to Australia. Leo Neal, Ellerslie.
The Premium Debate
Thomas, why do you defend Robertson’s use of language on the basis that someone did it before? Does this mean Chris Luxon when PM can refute the premise of every question he doesn’t want to answer? Julian T.
The difficulty of dropping the tax on the rich, is that Labour are now going to have to find other ways to increase the tax take. Sadly, they will turn to those who already pay the most. Wage and salary earners, farmers and small business owners, are the backbone of this country. Things that should be prioritised, roads, hospitals, schools etc have all been neglected. Wage and salary earners, are now far worse off than prior to Labour taking office. Labour no longer supports the working classes. Sandra H.
The world has changed, wealth creation is no longer from the output of manual labour and our tax system is no longer fit for purpose. In New Zealand we need to collect less tax from the earnings of people who work for a living. Up to the minimum wage at least should be tax-free. We need to collect more tax from multinationals and big tech companies that manipulate their income and pay little or no tax in New Zealand yet generate keep plenty of revenue in New Zealand. Think the big Aussie banks, Google, Facebook and loads more; they make money here, pay tax here. John B.
Nice. They’ll simply move their operations to tax-friendly countries, of which there are many. Emma B.
Just another indication that this Government has no idea of what it is doing, as opposed to what it is saying it wants to achieve. The fact that they have taken more in tax than at any time previously and yet they cannot show how they have used that money to improve things for the better, just shows they are now being caught out. Storm R.