Roading: The truth is out there
John Roughan is simply wrong when he states that "road vehicles pay all the costs of building and maintaining their infrastructure".
In the past financial year Auckland ratepayers provided $400 million to Auckland Transport to use for capital projects. NZTA provided a further $264m. From this capital funding, $465m was spent on building new roads, and road renewals. The rest of the capital funding was spent on public transport and parking projects.
Every year Auckland ratepayers provide hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to build and maintain the road network.
This information is all publicly available. Roughan might want to familiarise himself with it before writing his next opinion piece.
Alastair Cameron, Grey Lynn.
Never profit in rail
Thank goodness someone in the media mainstream is saying what John Roughan is. I strongly recommend Professor Dave Heatley's The History and Future of Rail in New Zealand (2009).
NZ was very unlucky in the timing of its emergence as a nation, and the evolution of transport technology. Our Government went into debt for nearly a century, to create a national rail network — just before the evolution of road transport would render much of it obsolete.
Furthermore, its primary purpose was to carry people, rather than freight; at the time, there was no better way for people to travel; and the population was projected to hit tens of millions! The rate of immigration collapsed from what it had been because living conditions in the Old World improved greatly with technology in transport and refrigeration and health.
Our rail network never contributed an operating profit to pay back the capital expenditure; it constantly operated at a loss; a fiscal black hole. The short period it was privatised was a temporary relief; Michael Cullen's buyback of it for $1 right at the end of his term as Finance Minister was a master-stroke of sabotage of the following National Government's fiscal options.
Philip G Hayward, Naenae.
John Roughan in his article suggests that using road funding for rail would be an "economic crime". Does he not realise road users benefit from various subsidies? Trucks, rail's main competition, are subsidised by other road users. Road users in general are subsidised by ratepayers who may not drive. Regardless of how you got there, if you shop in a mall you are paying for parking. If Auckland is anything like the average United States city there are an average eight parking spots for every car, most at no charge to the motorist. Auckland's parking spots are estimated to be worth on average $50,000. That's possibly close to half a million dollars per car. Looks like there's an economic crimewave.
Robin Coleman, Glenfield.
Opinion piece flawed
John Roughan makes two elementary mistakes in his opinion piece "On the wrong track: Robbing road to pay rail".
The first is that "road vehicles pay all the costs of building and maintaining their infrastructure, trains cannot". Simply untrue, I'm afraid. Roads are subsidised both by general taxation and rates in NZ.
The other is scant regard for the impact of climate change. The economy won't function well in a world of uncontrolled warming.
Bevan Jenkins, Hawke's Bay.
New year in sight
I was wondering if next year will be dedicated to the Year of Perfect Vision? After all it will be 2020.
Morris Jones, Papakura.
Plastic use unnecessary
I quite agree with Wendy Galloway.
When growing up on a farm our hay was not covered with plastic but kept in a hay barn. When building our house over the course of a year it was not covered in plastic. What happens to this plastic after the hay is eaten and the house renovations have finished? The use of plastic should be banned in both covering hay bales and houses being built.
Both uses are unnecessary, should not have been allowed in the first place and should have been eliminated well before the ban on single-use plastic bags.
Lyn Barton, Beach Haven.
Council move cynical
Displaying cynical disregard for community consultation, the humbug Auckland Council waited until right before Christmas to give staff and patrons just one day's notice of the indefinite closure of the historic Leys Institute Library, for very low-level seismic risks it had been aware of for more than a year.
Mike Wagg, Freemans Bay.
Folau career destroyed
The reason Maria Folau went out without a whimper is quite simple. The media.
The media created, promoted and exaggerated a non-story. The media must have known and planned for Maria to be dragged into the deliberately created maelstrom. All her husband did was quote the Bible. Yippeee, big deal. Highly religious people have been quoting texts from their particular book ever since the religious fantasy was born.
There was no independent, unbiased reporting. It was a full-out attack, knowing full well what the response from an over-sensitive section of the community would be. Effectively, the media destroyed two careers. Three cheers for those brave journalists.
Graham Hansen, Howick.
Trump going nowhere
As we go into 2020, could we have less regurgitation of selective US opinion writers on the Trump impeachment and foolish lines such as the photo today, from the New York Times, of course, that he will "face removal by the Senate". Anyone who takes an interest in international affairs knows full well the Republican-dominated Senate will never remove him after a partisan "impeachment" and astoundingly flawed "trial" in legal terms which has been pure political theatre.
You don't have to be misrepresented as a supporter or apologist for Trump to observe that reality. So let's cut to the end.
Senate will exonerate. Trump might be re-elected and continue to provide a focal point for outrage and fury from the Democrats. And if he isn't, then "opinions" will shift elsewhere.
June Kearney, West Harbour.
It seems that Auckland Council no longer cares about enforcing the rules that protect our residential areas from the scourge of advertising billboards and notices plastered over fences and walls.
What is worse is that these non-complying advertisements are promoting political parties. In the quiet and leafy suburbs of Northcote Pt and Birkenhead, National Party and Labour Party billboards, in the guise of Christmas messages (such as "Have a Merry Christmas!") have sprung up and the council refuses to remove them on the ridiculous grounds that "they are just a Christmas message".
This is despite including photographs of the local National Party MP, Dan Bidois, the address of the National Party, and lots of blue colouring. Ditto for the red version for the Labour Party candidate for the area, Shannan Halbert.
The council's Unitary Plan rules are clear that advertisements of any sort are illegal in residential areas, except during election periods. Where does this specious evaluation of council rules end? Is it now a policy of "anything goes" as long as it contains an appealing message?
M. Carol Scott, Birkenhead.
A very good friend who will experience her first Christmas without her much-loved mother wrote the following to me (I lost both my siblings this year):
"Christmas will be hard for both of us this year but remember they would want to see us happy and relaxing after such a big year." I cannot think of any better words of comfort to everybody in similar circumstances.
Graham Edwards, Sandringham.
Council Christmas grinch
Shame on Auckland Council. As there are no street Christmas decorations in Devonport I took a trip to Queen St on Saturday morning to feel the Christmas spirit. Well I am still trying to find a piece of tinsel or in fact anything in the form of a decoration. It's unbelievable, and not acceptable. I can't imagine what tourists must think. Instead of the council spending taxpayers' money on their Christmas bash, buy some decorations.
Council, you need to visit Moscow at this time. Or even Whanganui.
No, Auckland, you are not the city you think you are. You probably rank last of the cities in the world when it comes to street decorations. I have been in Kazakhstan at this time of year, and the cities there make a very nice show.
I am embarrassed and ashamed to be here, as I have heard comments from tourists in Devonport. What a disappointment for them and us. Shame! I have more decorations on my wee balcony than all of Auckland.
Jan Simonson, Devonport.
Women should be heard
It would be terrific if next year's Christmas message from the churches was primarily written by women, with a smattering of male voices to provide diversity.
Mary Tallon, Auckland.
The advantages of distance
In your Business Inside Story of December 21, dealing with OMV's oil exploration programme, Minister Megan Woods referred to global protests against fossil fuels. It should be remembered that our country is only as developed and successful as it is because of its geographical location.
If we had not had either opportunity and foresight to be able to harness and produce energy from the rainfall we have, and from the steam from our volcanic underbelly, we would be as dependent on fossil fuels as other countries are, and as they will remain for many decades yet.
Nick Nicholas, Greenlane.