In her column (NZ Herald, May 16), Nicola Willis claimed New Zealand's "squeezed middle" needs income-tax relief. But what National called "middle" isn't actually the middle.
For income purposes, the middle (or median) is the point where half of the population earns below that point and the other half earns above. It most certainly isn't the average income for a household, which is the figure National uses to boost what it claims people would get in the party's tax cuts.
What's the difference between these figures? In 2021, the average household income was $110,451, while the median was $21,324 lower at $89,127. Half of all Kiwi households earn nowhere near the average household income.
This makes a vast difference to what they would get out of National's tax policy. Assuming two income earners on equal incomes in our median household, the median individual income becomes $44,563, and this means more than half of all Kiwis will gain no more than $2.15 per week from National's tax-cuts. Not much relief there.
But it gets worse. National wants to get rid of the Winter Energy Payment, so low-income households would actually end up worse off than now.
Jonathan Godfrey, Mangere.
Last week, we were talking about how overcharged we are in New Zealand because essential industries like groceries and building materials are not required to be competitive.
This week, we're talking about the direct result of that - industrial action by healthcare professionals because they can't afford to live.
R Irwin, Te Atatū South.
Relief for all
National finance spokesperson Nicola Willis is spot on when she says the first priority should be income tax relief for the squeezed middle.
I'd go a lot further. It is not the middle-income families who are hurting most. I suggest the fairest approach would be to provide all income earners, including pensioners and beneficiaries, relief by making the first $5000 tax-free. This would give all taxpayers a benefit of $750. It's not huge but would certainly help the middle and be of huge significance to those who are really suffering.
It would give the same benefit to all taxpayers and, while not earth-shattering for those on $150,000, it allows them to buy a couple of bottles of really good bubbles.
If she and her party were truly interested in reducing poverty she might commit to increasing this threshold by a thousand or more each year.
From National's point of view, it will not lose existing voters but might just get the attention of those who have never voted for the party.
If National's proposed budget can afford $1600 for the middle, surely it can afford $750 for all.
Rod Lyons, Kumeu.
Bigger than taxes
All the pressure for tax cuts in a time of major international turbulence and climate change is simply short-term foolishness.
Cutting taxes, mostly at the top, will do nothing to tackle the cost of living squeeze for most. Nor will it allow us to effectively tackle climate change, invest more in public healthcare and rebalance the waka.
It will simply put more money in the hands of those most highly paid. However, it is a good electoral bribe. The price will be public spending austerity, which at least ACT admits. This is not a time for short-term thinking, the stakes are too high.
Jeff Hayward, Auckland Central.
Here is a challenge for our world-renowned "Kiwi ingenuity".
Electric vehicles are great in theory and horrendous in financial terms. Why doesn't some ingenious Kiwi develop an electric motor which can simply be fitted into our existing cars to replace the undesirable petrol or diesel motors?
Surely having to wreck millions of current cars is going to create a major problem of disposal, quite apart from the wastage of their potential years of use.
Jeanette Grant, Mt Eden.
In our element
Currently, thorium is enjoying a revival as a safe fuel in nuclear reactors with experiments on molten salt thorium technology in the Netherlands and reactors being built in India, China, the US, and elsewhere.
Westport in New Zealand has both uranium and thorium in good supply, only awaiting mining. Could thorium be New Zealand's new holy grail, perhaps?
Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.
I cannot believe the Government is prepared to spend $569 million on subsidising people to exchange their perfectly good petrol-driven car for an EV car when nurses and hospital staff desperately need a pay rise and are not getting one. Has the Green Party gone completely mad?
Nurses and hospital staff are vital to our health "system" - EV cars are not.
For goodness sake, can no one get some common sense applied to the spending of money in this Government?
R Stewart, Rothesay Bay.
There's good news for talkback callers Tony, who lives in the far reaches of the North Shore and works in Ormiston; Ngaire, with a sore hip who is 64 and couldn't possibly start cycling; and Vanessa, who has three children and works part-time and has no way to take the groceries home on a bus.
You don't have to walk, cycle or use public transport. But it doesn't mean it's a doomed idea.
If the rest of us, who are in a position to, start using better means of transport, then the roads will be less congested, the air will be cleaner, and there will be more parking spaces for talkback callers like Tony, Vanessa and Ngaire when they get there.
Those of us who are fit and healthy and are able to cycle, or can afford an e-bike to get across some of Auckland hills, or who like walking and might try doing a bit more of it, and to those who live near to good public transport routes - please, give it a go.
You will help to make a difference and might even enjoy the cost savings and exercise.
Zoe Hawkins, Titirangi.
In his column, Shane Te Pou (NZ Herald, May 12) asks the rhetorical question: "If you oppose iwi involvement in governing resources, tell us why."
A tiny few would be totally opposed to any involvement but very many are opposed to an involvement which, in effect, amounts to control.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority is a horrible example. The interests of the majority of users have been treated with apparent disdain. Total costs associated operation of the reserves must have increased colossally. And now there are legal proceedings to add directly and indirectly to the operating costs.
Bob Culver, Avondale.
The opinion piece from Doug Paulin, CEO of Sealord (NZ Herald, May 16), is commendable. I refer to Paulin's statement "the quota system, now 30 years old and internationally acclaimed for keeping fish stocks" healthy.
The question is, what about the 30-year-old fisherman, born when the quota system was born; how does he get a quota? What is the cost of a quota? How much does a fisherman get paid fishing for a quota holder? Where and who owns the quota now?
In my opinion, it is time questions were asked about the quota and where it is placed to aid the fishing industry and young hands-on fishermen who love fishing, love the sea but struggle to maintain a vessel and achieve a sustainable living.
Frances Ferrier, Whangārei.
I totally agree with Matt Heath (NZ Herald, May 16), that children these days need to be enticed out of their dark rooms. When raising our children they learned to play those games mentioned (especially Monopoly, Pictionary, Draughts, Chess, Scrabble - and playing cards). Scrabble over the years grew in strength and the family competition now is fierce. Although teenagers these days might turn their noses up at these older games, it can be fun for them to play two against one adult. UNO and Phase 10 have been popular games.
I smiled as I read about walking. It seems to be something women friends will do naturally; walk and talk - and it doesn't always involve a flat white.
Alison Winn, Epsom.
Under the boardwalk
Fran Jones of Waiake (NZ Herald, May 16) commends Auckland Council for building a new boardwalk at Browns Bay.
In Takapuna we had a boardwalk that was not only attractive but served to allow dry access to the beach at high tides; this boardwalk has been closed by the council for more than four years.
Council officers say overhanging trees are a danger to the public. The council wishes to remove the boardwalk for almost $1 million, whereas repairs are estimated to cost approximately $40,000.
The council's excuse is that pruning pōhutukawa trees overhanging the boardwalk may cause the trees to die, yet such trees are pruned all over Auckland and they do not die.
Over 2500 locals signed a petition asking that our boardwalk be repaired and reopened, and the local board voted 5-1 in favour of this. However, council officers say it will not happen.
Rachel Lewis, Takapuna.
Short & sweet
Why do Labour Government announcements like the climate policy sound like it wrote them down on the back of a coaster in a bar last night? Very little detail, more work to do, more detail later. Gary Carter, Gulf Harbour.
Up to 40 gang members break into a house and ambush the family inside, cause mayhem and leave a man dead. Wow, what tough guys they are. Even for gang members, this is a new low. Lorraine Kidd, Warkworth.
Greenpeace claims New Zealand does not need 6 million dairy cows. Does Greenpeace have a realistic economically viable alternative to dairying? C.C. McDowall, Rotorua.
No doubt the aftermath of the latest mass shooting in the US will be the same as all others; lots of talk but no action and an increase in gun sales. L Mallon, Te Atatū.
Unless more effort and resources are put into youth instability we might as well start building new prisons now. Reg Dempster, Albany.
As a schoolboy, when bullying took place, most children would watch without interfering. No longer in the schoolyard, so-called world leaders are standing by whilst a whole nation suffers. John Norris, Whangamatā.
The Premium Debate
This doco is not going to be screened until after the next election. We don't even know if Chloe will want to be an MP then. As an oldie, who was much more politically involved in my youth, I believe that young ones need to see they have a role to play to choose their future. Let's make more documentaries on younger people wanting to make a difference, those from all political parties. David Seymour showed us how not to dance; he loved the attention he got and received much exposure before an election. Judy J
Brooke van Velden is Deputy Leader of Act. She is 30. Put both her and Chlöe in the same documentary. Now that would be interesting... and more balanced. Susan M.
Will the premiere coincide with a crystal burial at that private school in the Taranaki? Pam C.
Swarbrick has legitimately achieved some noteworthy political milestones - including being the youngest person elected to Parliament, (winning an electorate seat; more than many leading opposition MPs managed to do), and a woman at that - whilst being open about both her personal battles and her desire to make a difference. The doco is being legitimately funded (misinformation debunked) and won't be released until after the election, hence won't "help" her politically. Not that she needs it, obviously; her achievements are her own. Susann S.
If NZ On Air does this for one (Green) MP, it should also be done for other MPs from the other political parties (and not with taxpayers' money). Otherwise, scrap this initiative. It is unfair to the taxpayer and the other political parties. Vadin R.