Tinkering with roads won't do
In the Government's recent announcement about building new roads there are two glaring omissions.
First, the Warkworth to Wellsford motorway. It has been a murderous road for years. A winding road with, in places, a 35km/h speed limit, it has seen 36 deaths and 102 serious crashes in 10 years. More than eight million vehicles travel it annually and the number is rising. Minor tinkering is no answer.
Much of the land has been purchased, the route nearly finalised and some consents issued. When the motorway to Warkworth is completed at the end of 2021 it is logical to use the experienced workforce to carry on with this next bit of work. Even if the go-ahead is given it is likely to take six to eight years before it opens. To further delay it is criminal.
Second, where are the plans to extend the western motorway from Westgate to north of Silverdale? The present roading system leads traffic from the west into a bottleneck at Constellation Drive and Greville Rd and similarly for traffic coming from the north. It is much more sensible to extend the motorway at Westgate around the back of Albany and emerge just north of Silverdale. Auckland's rising population (40,000 a year, which should be slashed to 10,000) demands this ring road be built ASAP.
Finance is available now through the Government's surpluses plus its ability to borrow at historically low interest rates. Now is the time to act.
Bryan Jackson, Snells Beach.
With reference to Trump and the upcoming US election, as observed by Fran O'Sullivan in Saturday's Herald, what seems to matter most to Americans is the economy, stupid. Ethical behaviour, foreign policy, climate action do not count for much (though Trump's anti-abortion stance resonates, she reports).
Will it be the same election story in NZ? Will it still be primarily about growing the economy? We are now having to put the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff to the tune of $2 billion for mental health services. What is going so badly wrong in our society that rightly requires this allocation of funds? While half the population enjoy relative comfort and security, the other half are not getting the trickle-down benefits — in fact are being victimised by the profit drive: wages too low, rents too high, a widening have/have-not gap. Is bigger growth the fix?
Today there are many pressing social and environmental issues for voters here to ponder, but in short it is our collective quality of life, for all our people and our planet, that matters. Most of us don't want to live in a Trumpian NZ.
B Darragh , Auckland Central.
I was invited by the Prime Minister's office to the recent launch of the Government's NZ Upgrade Programme. I was unsure what to expect, but left the event relieved to know Auckland's economy and environment will benefit for years to come from the upgrade's strategic and integrated transport investment. It's true that new and upgraded roads are funded, but never before has Auckland had certainty that all new roads will have bus and freight lanes as well as walking and cycling routes built into them. Additionally, the booming new suburbs along the motorway from Papakura to Pukekohe will gain rail electrification and new train stations. Funding the Harbour Bridge cycleway is great, but more importantly, it means money will remain in the national transport budget to connect cycleways up and down SH1 to replicate the hugely successful North Western Cycleway.
As central Auckland is buried by traffic cones to retrofit roads for underground trains, efficient bus routes and safe walking and cycling lanes, I hope Aucklanders realise the Government's upgrade package is a major step to avoid having to do this in the future. The upgrade package gives Aucklanders smart transport choices to avoid more people congesting our roads driving single-occupancy cars. That's got to be good news.
Barb Cuthbert, QSM, chairwoman, Bike Auckland.
The downgrading of Concert FM — the spin to the contrary notwithstanding — confirms that the Barbarians truly are entering the gates now. This travesty is wrong on so many fronts.
First, the notion that the station needs to be geared to a younger audience is questionable when we are constantly being reminded of our ageing population, and there are any number of stations with narcissistic young lightweight jocks for those of us miraculously not ageing. The informed commentary on Concert from a range of lively presenters is a treasured alternative to the nonsense spouted by so many others.
Second, the assumption that classical, jazz and world music is not worthy of the quality of FM sound is as inaccurate as it is bizarre. We listen to the best music through our old fuddy-duddy stereo systems at home and in the car, not through our phones and earplugs.
Thirdly, the timing of this plan is highly suspect given the pending "business case" for amalgamating public broadcasting into a single entity. The dumbing down has already started. All old, irrelevant good music lovers arise, I bid thee, and throw the bastards out before they take your wives, husbands, sons and daughters too.
Petrus van der Schaaf, Wellsford.
A cone is said to be a geometric solid consisting of a plane base bounded by a closed curve, every point of which is joined to a fixed point, usually at the top. This could well be a metaphor for Auckland at the moment. The question is, in 2025 when all of the infrastructure is complete will there be a competition for the most innovative use for a use road cone? A cone apartment, a cone cafe, electric cars or cycleways made from ground-up cones, the mind boggles.
Chas Foxall, Meadowbank.
No doubt Taika Waititi is right: humour and satire can ridicule the most serious and tragic situations. But think about this. Joachim Gottschalk was a young German movie actor who married Meta Wolff, a Jewish actor. In 1933 they had a son Michael. After the Nazis rose to power Joachim, as an Aryan, managed to get a licence to continue to act in movies but Jewish Meta could no longer appear on stage. Joachim was apparently a heart-throb for adoring German women.
In 1941 Joachim starred in The Swedish Nightingale. He and Meta had to attend its premiere and they were introduced to Joseph Goebbels, who was charmed by Meta; until he discovered later she was Jewish. Joachim was told that to continue acting he must leave his wife and son, or face conscription into the army. Honourably, he refused to leave his wife and child. Because of his refusal, Goebbels ordered Meta and Michael to be sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Hours before the expected arrival of the Gestapo to take them, Joachim and Meta sedated Michael then turned on the gas so the whole family died together. Was there really anything funny about the evil Nazi regime?
Christopher Paxton, Papatoetoe.
What are the board and management of Radio New Zealand thinking? In proposing to cut the Concert Programme they are acting like climate-change deniers, avoiding the looming disaster by not controlling damage. And damage there will be, through the dumbing down of our musical repertoire which, duh, dumbs down our culture. New Zealanders own Radio New Zealand. We should all be outraged at this wilful slashing of artistic range even if we are not classical music fans.
As RNZ literally belongs to all New Zealand tax-paying citizens, let us call for our Prime Minister The Right Honourable (spelled out for a reason) Jacinda Ardern, who is also the Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage, to honour Labour's 2017 manifesto, which specifically states "Labour will ensure that the development of RNZ towards RNZ+ does not result in any reduction in the funding or the quality of content and delivery of any of their current specialist services including, but not limited to, Radio NZ Concert".
Christine Keller Smith, chairwoman, Auckland Choral Foundation, Northcote Pt.
When playing for my College 1st XI the golden rule to avoid run outs was simple. If the ball is struck in front of the wicket, the striker calls, having regard for the non-striker's running ability.
If it is struck so that it goes behind the wicket it is not the striker's call. There was also a call of "WAIT". Where is the problem?
Tony Kirby, Pāpāmoa.
Imagine asking your friends around on a Saturday night for a BBQ and a look at your new $20k purchase. Is it a car, a boat or new business equipment? Hell no! It's much better than that. It's thousands of emails between Phil Goff and other grey politicians. My goodness! Talk about a night out. My mates will be be green with envy and reading the emails so exciting it's mind-numbing.
Yes humans really have evolved into a superior-thinking species.
Mark Lewis-Wilson, Mangonui.