Simon Wilson (NZ Herald, May 23) makes an excellent point: it isn’t business that drives this country forward, it’s the ingenuity and effort of the people. And investing in people is what governments must do if they want a thriving population and a harmonious society. Business benefits hugely from having healthy, well-housed, and well-educated people to employ. But let’s not pretend that our leaders are heroes. They are seeking profit above all. It’s not their job to look after people, or our environment for that matter. The Government needs to do it. Whether you look at it from an economic perspective or from a human rights one, it’s clear we must pour our resources into human wellbeing above all else. Who knows what we might achieve if we really set our minds to it?
V M Fergusson, Mt Eden.
Greed over good
Simon Wilson (NZ Herald, May 23) is dead right, taxpayers shouldn’t have to bribe wealthy companies like Australian-owned New Zealand Steel to cut their carbon emissions. The problem is too many companies making hefty profits won’t do the right thing for the environment unless they’re bribed. Short-sighted greed still trumps the common good for far too many people. That’s why we have a climate crisis in the first place.
Jeff Hayward, Auckland Central.
Your editorial on abolishing pharmacy co-payments (NZ Herald, May 23) misses the most consequential point. One of the major challenges in medicine is the failure of patients to take their medications. The most important factor shown to affect this is a cost impediment. The cost doesn’t have to be exorbitant to be a barrier. “Co-payment” is a misnomer as it actually is a health tax on a narrow group of our population, potentially denying in some cases life-saving medications and other societal benefits like reducing unwanted pregnancies with free contraception. The fee has nothing to do with paying for the drugs nor paying for Pharmac. We don’t know whether it is always the rich that pick up their prescriptions and the poor that don’t. It is outrageous that 20 per cent don’t pick up their prescriptions after being assessed and diagnosed by a doctor as needing a prescription. Sixteen patients die each day from heart disease, half are women and disproportionately more are Māori and Pasifika. We know that heart attacks, strokes and death can be reduced by heart drugs by 30 per cent. Let’s not miss the opportunity to improve the health of New Zealanders by doing away with a cost obstacle to patients getting and taking their drugs.
Harvey D. White, cardiologist, Epsom.
Thank you for the in-depth editorial ‘Is easy dose it the best medicine?’ (NZ Herald, May 23) that examined the key elements in the Government’s policy to remove the $5 co-payment for prescriptions. With any policy, there are always pros and cons and they require careful consideration. As the editorial stated: “It may have even made more sense for the Government to charge a larger sum for each prescription but to lower the trigger point for free prescriptions.”
Lorraine Kidd, Warkworth.
The Government claims to have reduced child poverty. The greatest poverty is a lack of education, and with close to 50 per cent of students not attending class, we are creating great poverty. Further, we have slumped to nearly last in the key areas and the testing is carried out on those attending. We urgently need a return to basic maths, English, and science, and less social engineering. We need more and better-paid teachers, and consequences for families not supporting children into school. No education creates poverty.
Michael Single, Bayswater.
Recently there has been a lot of negativity expressed towards Air New Zealand but I have a different story to tell. I had to travel from Auckland to Christchurch for a funeral this week. I expected to pay a small fortune as last-minute fares are usually very high. In this case, not so: yesterday, Auckland to Christchurch $78 on Grabaseat, $136 back today. Luck of the draw maybe, but I don’t call that a “hyper-inflated” fare.
Ian Dally, Royal Oak.
Correspondents like to point to GDP per capita to score how well New Zealand is doing. But what does that number mean? As it turns out, virtually nothing: it has come under increasing fire from economists as being inadequate for measuring anything. It takes the total income of the country and divides it by how many people are living in that country. It totally ignores how that income is distributed, and here distribution is critical. It’s a mean value, calculated for a so-called “fat-tailed” distribution, which doesn’t have well-defined means. Trying to force one is mathematically unjustifiable. You can do the calculation and get a number, but the number is meaningless. That meaninglessness of means like “GDP per capita” is precisely why medians are a preferred measure of “average” when dealing with such distributions.
Morgan L. Owens, Manurewa.
Andy O’Sullivan (NZ Herald, May 23) proposes that, based on his experience, any comparisons of New Zealand’s economy are totally redundant. I have visited Scandinavia a number of times since 1980, have Danish relatives and have worked for Danish companies. I have also done quite a bit of reading about Scandinavia’s economic success and discussed it with extended family members still living there, and who travel between Scandinavia and Australasia reasonably frequently. They all seem to see many areas of comparison between Scandinavia and Australasia. After WWII, Finland was a bankrupt, low GDP/capita pastoral economy. It now ranks 14th in the OECD. Denmark, which has very few, if any, of New Zealand’s natural advantages, ranks ninth and Sweden is 12th. The only Scandinavian country that benefits directly from North Sea oil is Norway, which ranks the highest at fourth. Scandinavian countries typically rank higher than New Zealand in many other socio-economic indices. New Zealand now ranks 20th in the OECD and its ranking is dropping. Direct comparison may or may not be appropriate, however I suggest that there could be much we could learn from how Scandinavian countries have grown their GDP/capita far quicker than New Zealand has.
Jon Eriksen, Newmarket.
Form a queue
What a farce. Freebies are still being offered to push people into filling out a Census form. Next Census I will not be wasting my time filling out the form no matter how many food parcels, Warriors tickets, and the like are dangled in front of me. These people want handouts every time and the time wasted on them is an embarrassment.
P. Salvador, Hobsonville.
It’s not illegal, we know to park on the road in the suburbs - but it is inconsiderate and inconvenient when your street is invaded every day by a crew of tradies with their individual utes, trucks, cranes, SUVs, cars, vans and an overarching nonchalance. Along with the noise, the juddering, shuddering, vibrations, drilling, hammering and cranes with huge hoists we, the little community with no voice, are expected to shut up and put up with it. Please don’t tell us to go out in our PJs in the pre-dawn hours to park our own cars in the tradies’ target parks so we can hold space. It would be polite, actually really considerate and responsible, if the owners of houses under renovation, who shift out for the duration of the year-long rebuild, let neighbours know what was happening and when, so we could plan access for ourselves and visitors. Construction companies could and should provide pooled transport for their subbies to cut the emissions and the rising ire of residents. In parts of the CBD and big construction sites, parking space hogging and road congestion is not an option, and it’s time to take that approach into the ‘burbs.
Susan Robinson-Derus, Mt Eden.
I am astounded to find out that I cannot contact IRD by phone to discuss income tax matters. I called IRD yesterday and the phone call gets a recorded message stating they “are unable to answer your call”. Their website now also states that. I find this reprehensible and quite unacceptable from such a critical government department as IRD. I wonder if the minister would like to reveal how advisors justified such a decision.
Bill Boyle, Ōrewa.
Short & sweet
The fines for speeding are heavy. If I promise never to speed again, can I claim a ticket to the Warriors/Broncos game? I would even settle for KFC. Johan Slabbert, Warkworth.
Hipkins and Robertson appear to believe their spending isn’t inflationary, however, if a taxpayer spends, it is. Is a Government dollar more virtuous, perhaps making it magically not inflationary? Steve Dransfield, Karori.
The most surprising aspect of the projected loss of 200 jobs at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is that this arm of Auckland Council was allowed to grow to that size in the first place. Perhaps “Unlimited” is a clue? Duncan Simpson, Hobsonville Pt.
Why is Auckland Transport still faffing about designing its own security screens when overseas these have been a standard fitting for years? James Archibald, Birkenhead.
John Gascoigne (NZH, May 23) got it right: “we have an increasingly undisciplined, dysfunctional multicultural population entirely lacking any sense of national purpose or common interest”. For “population” also read “government”. Ian Doube, Rotorua.
“The rain it raineth every day; Hey Ho for the wind and the rain,” wrote Shakespeare. It would seem that it’s been raining for centuries. Brian Cuthbert, Army Bay.
The Premium Debate
Hmm, is anyone else getting that third-world vibe? Failing health system, high crime, energy grid under pressure, atrocious roads, high inflation, record high food bank requests, record low school attendance, the country being divided across racial and other social lines... And I’m probably missing things. Stuart M.
So our brilliant Government pushes for more EVs, pays a rich corporation to switch from coal to electricity, and then belatedly discovers we might not have enough to go round, unless, of course we burn tons more imported “dirty” coal from Indonesia, with the massive carbon footprint that entails. The incompetence borders on the negligent. Patrick F.
Oh yes, all Labour’s fault. Nothing to do with a lack of investment since National’s Max Bradford’s electricity reforms. Max K.
Ancient history, Max. The Bradford reforms took place 25 years ago and there have been 15 years of Labour governments since then to do something about them if Labour had any genuine reason to repeal them. The Government still owns the majority of the shares in the companies that were partially privatised back in 2013. Gary W.
National has not spent the last five years urging people to use more electricity by subsidising EVs and billion dollar overseas companies. But yeah, let’s just go back 25 years looking for blame. Anna S.