Hope and faith
The lockdowns have helped our largest city lessen the health impact of Covid-19 but at an increasing cost.
Amid the closed shops there are many small- and medium-sized businesses that lockdown has crippled. The main shopping area of Onehunga had two fish shops. Now it has one. The closed shop has had its fittings dismantled. It lies shut and empty. How are those who ran it faring? Badly, most likely.
This is not a new phenomenon.
I am 97 but can recollect a family discussion about the impact of the viral influenza epidemic of 1918-19; the desperation of families who subsequently lost sons and husbands seemed all the harder because it came about the end of WWI, and all the losses New Zealanders had suffered on those battlefields.
We still suffer several hundred deaths each year from influenza, often complicated by other conditions, even though a vaccine is available which can prevent many cases.
It is a blessing that advances in technology are such that vaccination has evolved remarkably quickly.
Auckland needs hopefulness and faith that its people can cope. It may be a strange Christmas this year but let's make it a hopeful, positive one.
Margaret Guthrie, Onehunga.
Airs and graces
Otago University epidemiologist Dr Amanda Kvalsvig says clear health advice from the Government is needed for people about exercising and meeting up outdoors, and keeping doors and windows open when inside.
Kvalsvig says this summer, good ventilation and the use of face masks will be critical to keeping Covid-19 at bay. "Importantly, they'll continue to work, regardless of which Covid-19 variant is circulating."
This is a vital message that everyone needs to hear.
Andrew Montgomery, Remuera.
As we move into areas of greater freedom, I am concerned that so much faith is being vested in vaccine passports. Unless they are shown with photo identification (passport or driver's licence) they are really useless, as you cannot be sure if the person presenting the passport is, in fact, that person - and therefore possibly not vaccinated.
This becomes even more important with the advent of Omicron, as the experts are not yet sure whether or not existing vaccines are effective against it. I would hope that in the light of this, our borders will remain closed, as the virus shows no sign of taking a Christmas break.
Geraldine Taylor, Remuera.
As the clock starts ticking away Christopher Luxon's life as top Nat, I am reminded of the dying Voltaire's response on being counselled to renounce the devil: "This is no time to make new enemies."
Accordingly, a National government will not: introduce a capital gains tax; reduce farming emissions to 1990 levels as pledged; or get people out of cars.
Not only do the neoliberals have no long-term answers, it's thanks to their whingeing and haranguing Jacinda Ardern to open the border with Australia that we have Covid-19 in the community for Christmas.
Dennis N Horne, Howick.
Politics and faith
I see in both Thomas Coughlan and Claire Trevett (NZ Herald, December 1) record, with comment, the election of Christopher Luxon as leader of the National Party. Luxon is recorded as saying: "My faith is something that has grounded me into context that is bigger than myself". I understand this.
He then is recorded as saying he wanted to be clear that he believed in the separation of politics and faith. This I consider impossible. The long history of the interface of church and state indicates the wisdom of separating the two institutions, and the valid role of the church critiquing the state – and itself! However, this is not the issue raised in Luxon's reported second statement.
My life-long experience as a person of faith is that faith is not an "add on" to the rest of life, but a new way of seeing all life. Faith is a core motivator to address all life by applying such consequent ethics as justice, mercy, equity and well-being for all in the nation. Thus to have a faith is to come at all life, social, political and economic, from an ethical perspective.
Bruce Gilberd, Tairua.
The Parole Board has ruled on not granting Scott Watson parole after 23 years in jail because he won't admit the crime (the "core risk") and in the words of Sir Ron Young '"callous circumstances... that has never been explored".
It seems to me to taken directly from the Harlem Witch trials judgements: "If we throw you into the water and you drown then you are not a witch" and the Middle Age idea of "torture till you confess and then burn you at the stake for being guilty".
Rod McMahon, Birkenhead.
The "agent fights for $586k commission" article (NZ Herald, November 25) in regard to a high-end property sale in Queenstown highlights another commercial area in need of a government review.
The commission rate involved was 3 per cent, a New Zealand norm. In the Auckland real estate boom recently impacted by the new intensification legislation, extraordinary prices are being paid for ordinary residential properties now eligible for multi-unit development.
Two residential properties in Devonport's Lake Rd recently sold jointly for $16 million, and a Sandringham home has just sold for $3.56 million, $2 million above its CV.
The commission at 3 per cent would be $480,000 and $106,800 respectively, a very handsome return for a relatively simple selling process. GST is payable on the fees as well.
Australia's real estate fees are in the 2-2.5 per cent range and the UK 1.5 per cent.
In the 70s, NZ rates were 2 per cent, restrained by Government but increased in the Rogernomics days. A shift back to 2 per cent or lower would be more equitable and a significant help for first home buyers.
Bill Rayner, Devonport.
Your article on freedom camping (NZ Herald, December 1) failed to mention a large problem looming for Auckland.
Auckland Council is right now consulting on a proposed new Freedom Camping Bylaw which would allow camping in road reserves and carparks (but not in regional parks and reserves held under the Reserves Act). Vehicles must be self-contained but can stay two nights and day hours around that.
This means carparks and laybys at some of our most popular beaches and destinations, already in high demand from day visitors, could get cluttered with large campervans and their paraphernalia.
Places can be prohibited under the bylaw but the council has so far only proposed only a very few of these. Submissions on the proposed bylaw and nominating more places to prohibit can be made until 5pm this Sunday, December 5.
Sandra Coney, Piha.
Taking up arms
Just after being elected leader of the National Party Chris Luxon has already made his first political blunder by stating that, if he were prime minister, he would ensure that NZ police officers were armed at all times, in the same way that US police are armed.
This would be creating a similar arms environment to that of the United States where a person is 20 times more likely to be killed by gunfire than in New Zealand.
To continue with the existing policy of NZ police only being armed when the need arises is a far more sensible policy and should be maintained.
David Mairs, Glendowie.
The latest Auckland Council CVs release has been delayed (NZ Herald, December 1). Why persist with this pointless waste of time and money every three years instead of using the "banding" system as used in the UK?
A one-off exercise to set the rating band for each property based on value is all that is needed, with occasional updates for specific properties that have been significantly renovated/developed (or an even rarer update for all properties within a gentrified suburb). New properties would be assigned a band based on comparable properties in the area.
Your property band then determines what proportion of the total rates you pay each year instead of the CV.
Alison Coleman, Henderson.
Gary Holmes (NZ Herald, December 2) is right to support trackless light rail if it will avoid destroying businesses in Dominion Rd. AT took over a year and a half just to widen curbs and install a cycle track to nowhere in Mt Albert, decimating nine businesses and significantly reducing the width of the road for the huge volume of through-traffic.
How much longer will Dominion Rd take?
We all know electrification is the future. Look at Wellington's ferry and buses, Sounds Air's electric planes and Air New Zealand's future plans.
Stop talking and get on with it.
Mary Tallon, Takapuna.
Short & sweet
Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willis arranged for separate black Mercedes limos to drive them 180m across the Parliament forecourt to meet the press. Why? Lame elitism. Roger Laybourn, Hamilton.
Who, on top of huge salaried earnings, needs to own seven houses - at a time when many many thousands are desperate to own just one? B Darragh, Auckland Central.
Very nice front page picture (NZ Herald, December 1). Pity that they are already out of step. Ross James, Waitākere.
Christopher Luxon has already flushed out a lot of critics and he has only been in the job a couple of days. This behaviour would indicate that they are worried. Dave Miller, Matua.
Would the swaggering cretin who murdered Constable Hunt have got out of his vehicle, armed, if he knew all police were routinely armed too? Colin Figgins, Taupō.
They could have named it something I can pronounce. A three-syllable word is too hard for this old bloke. John Ford, Taradale.
Let's hope we never get to variant Omega. John Hampson, Meadowbank.
The Premium Debate
There are so many concerns interest rates create. If there is inflation, the Government is not doing its job. Do something about petrol; do something about supply chains but do not raise interest rates. The country needs stability more than ever with retail, hospitality and tourism sectors seriously impacted. Of course the Government wants more people in homes but how will they afford a mortgage? Lastly, Liam's line, "there's a risk some people will be caught out with debts". OMG, suddenly their repayments are about to double or more - that is a real concern. Neil T.
I particularly agree with the comments that "a steady, well-signalled policy approach is preferable" in their role of "creating a fair and stable platform that allows people to plan and do things that create wealth". As others have noted, we don't know what the future holds with Covid or global pressures; however, it seems that NZRB is making some sensible decisions in the meantime. Susan S.
I disagree. The Reserve Bank is putting up interest rates - so far 50 points because of inflation. The lending banks have done the shock and awe thing and put rates up by 200 points because they can - so the housing market is going to be bust in the next month. Developers will be pausing and creating an even bigger shortage. Mortgages costs have effectively doubled and rents are about to see another upward jolt - everyone except the banks will be poorer and more overcrowded. The fact that the exchange rate has fallen 5 per cent tells us exactly what the world thinks of the direction of our economy. Dee R.
I think there's a couple of flaws in Liam's logic, unfortunately. The NZ economy is running at 100 per cent capacity (full employment, consents) so the only way future stimulus could work and have an upside is to depress current activity. Price inflation is baked into the economy now - building materials, wages going up and scarcity of supply. The lead time on a new vehicle is six months. The problem with comparing ourselves to Australia - it's a real choice. We look at them - with higher wages, lower interest rates and cheaper property. A larger gap will cause a loss of talent to Australia. Mike D.
I don't much care about the cooling. The only ways to fix that are for people to get better-paid jobs and to build more houses of the right size to be affordable at the average level.
I don't agree with you about the supply chain or the economy. I think there's at least another three to five years of this pandemic to run yet. Marcus A.