Values over issues
I recently read a quote from Charlie Sykes, a noted Republican activist who is now part of the "NeverTrump" campaign to ensure that Donald Trump is not re-elected in the coming presidential
election. He stated that he had had a revelation because of Trump: "The heart of politics is not about the policy... it's about the values. I can disagree with you on eight out of 10 issues, but if you're an honorable, honest, empathetic human being, we can do business."
This struck me as an ideal that we in New Zealand should aspire to if we want to avoid the extremism that has come to dominate American politics to the detriment of that nation. Although extremists are entitled to their opinions as much as anyone else, they in general are not given to respecting others' opinions, or explicitly denounce or abuse anyone who holds a contrary position. If we can ensure that the people we elect to serve us are of high moral character, we can trust that they will reach consensus, or make compromises - for compromise is at the heart of governance - in the best interest of the nation, rather than their own personal ambitions.
Richard Eggleton, Patumahoe.
Todd Muller from the outset lacked the one attribute necessary for success as the leader of a political party, namely charisma. Jacinda Ardern had it in spades and dragged Labour from 24 per cent in the polls to 37 per cent on election night in 2017 without promising any new policies except, maybe, CGT.
New Zealand First has survived on the back of its charismatic leader, and Act has been gaining traction because David Seymour, like John Key, has come across as nice Kiwi bloke who can turn you to his point of view with a sharp retort or a friendly pat on the back.
Who, in National, has charisma? It seems to me that Judith Collins is the only one who has both charisma and the strength of character and experience to lead the party.
Chris Marnewick, Bucklands Beach.
Back from Act
The National Party's game of musical chairs for the leadership continues to play. There has been a seismic shift of National supporters to the Act Party and Judith Collins is the only option now to get them back.
She will have the full backing of all the list MPs, including Paul Goldsmith, who is taking one for the team in Epsom and is about to slide off the end of the list.
Dave Miller, Rotorua.
Power of sunlight
It seems Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has achieved what many political leaders before her have not: she has outwitted (and ousted) some of the dark Machiavellian forces in the National Party.
Her response to the leak of confidential Covid-19 patient information was to announce an inquiry with wide-ranging powers including the ability to seize computers and, most important and terrifying to the leakers, compel people to testify under oath.
It is astonishing what comes out of the woodwork when faced with the prospect of sunlight.
Perhaps most astonishing was National's health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse publicly criticising Labour for the leak, knowing all the while that it came from within National. Surely this and the imaginary "homeless man" mean that he has lost all credibility.
Raewyn Maybury, Westmere.
How the court now handles the mosque shooter remains to be seen. His options are limited. He may wish to apologise, or seek leniency. He may wish to rant and rave.
The first is highly unlikely; the second will be quickly shut down if he descends to open hate speech.
More likely is the third option of utilising his last chance at a public hearing to present and argue his ideological case as a rational option. We shall see.
It is what Anders Breivik did, and the Norwegian Court permitted this on the basis of the right of the accused to explain himself. In that case it was less a rave than a ramble; disquieting at the time, but ultimately of no particular consequence.
Douglas Pratt, School of Humanities, University of Auckland.
With all these expensive reports being done for the feasibility of shifting the Port of Auckland to another area, has anybody done a feasibility study for maintaining the port in Auckland?
All we ever hear is that the port of Auckland is too small , but every time I cross the Harbour Bridge and look across to the container port all I see is idle cranes and empty berths, so why is it too small?
I detect an undercurrent that says the call for the shift is nothing to do with the port's capacity for freight handling and more to do with vested interests such as the greedy developers who want the port land. It would interesting to look at the property register in and around the proposed Port of Whangarei and see who has been buying up land and stands to benefit financially if the port expansion goes ahead.
Jock Mac Vicar, Hauraki.
Rail stacks up
Pattrick Smellie notes he spent a week in Gisborne (Weekend Herald, June 20), but it seems he only talked to the Gisborne Railbikes operator.
He notes there was just one train per week between Napier and Gisborne at the time of the rail washouts in March 2012. In 2012, there were three fully loaded trains per week, each with 16x 40 ft chilled containers of fresh produce running directly to Napier's export container port, with several general freight wagons as well.
The expanding horticultural and agricultural production from the Gisborne region is the primary driver for reinstating the railway line. Currently, there is sufficient demand to support a daily service of a 24-wagon train carrying containerised freight, supplemented by logs, five days a week, with ancillary, rail-related tourism.
The PGF invested $600,000 last year into a BERL feasibility study, which recommended reinstatement of the line between Wairoa and Gisborne for rail freight operations as well as complementary rail tourism.
There is a discrepancy between the estimated costs of reopening stated by the BERL study and by KiwiRail. The reason is the BERL study recommends the line be repaired and reinstated, KiwiRail would prefer the project, if it goes ahead, to be a complete rebuild. The project which Gisborne District Council wants funded as a Crown Infrastructure Partners "shovel ready" project, would restore this regional line, with its original lower axle weightings and lower speed tolerances. A higher-rated line, equivalent to the main trunk line, is unnecessary. The horticulturalists want their freight on the line now.
Gillian Ward, chair, Gisborne Rail Action Group.
Auckland Council has reduced its staff numbers by a reported 600. This is both wrong-headed and comes with major personal suffering to those affected.
Two recent independent surveys have shown that the excessive council payroll costs are due to excessive salary levels and wage rates. On average these exceed comparable private-sector norms by over 30 per cent.
Reduction of pay scales would have the same financial effects as staff cuts without the huge personal costs associated with redundancies and would avoid merely shifting the costs of the jobless numbers to taxpayer-funded support programmes.
Larry Mitchell, Rothesay Bay.
I hope that when those few selfish individuals who escape from the compulsory 14 days' isolation, and thoughtlessly risk restarting the epidemic, come before the courts, they are sentenced to 14 days imprisonment with a recommendation that it be served in solitary confinement.
That may bring it home to them that there are worse things in life than 14 days' isolation in a 5-star hotel.
H. E. H. Perkins, Botany Downs.
Short & sweet
Watching National self destruct is even better than watching Netflix and it's free. Simon Gilmore, Kohimarama.
For National, the deficit in leadership signifies damage to the party's credibility - so necessary in their crucial role of calling an arrogant government to account. J. Livingstone, Remuera.
Hey, hey, Paula, The country needs you now. Rod Lyons, Muriwai.
Why aren't we deporting foreign baddies just as Australia is doing? Our prisons are too full already. Pamela Russell, Ōrākei.
Why can't we have the traffic lights synchronised around the Auckland CBD, especially now, with the new speed limits? It is done overseas and would save time, and fuel. Derek Hall, Ōrākei.
No new dams for over 40 years so far? Surely, the need to build further rainwater collection in the Hunua Ranges is a no-brainer, as is the need to restructure Watercare. Nick Nicholas, Greenlane
All the "open our borders now" and "why can't we be more like Australia" voices are strangely silent now. Janet Drake, Remuera.
I must have missed the announcement that container ships are now able to operate on foils, like the America's Cup yachts of late. They will be a sight to see gliding over the Manukau Harbour. G Spencer, Pukekohe.