The Herald editorial of January 31 on the topic of light rail for Auckland was apt — especially the writer's closing question on whether or not "political dysfunction and interest groups" might prevail. My husband
was a television journalist during the 1980s. One assignment was to interview older prominent Auckland citizens, to record documentary film footage for screening in obituary tributes.
He met with Sir Dove-Myer Robinson shortly before the former mayor died. Robbie spoke at length about his regret at being unable to get council consensus on a rapid rail development plan for the city. His proposal at that time was stymied by a raft of other political agendas.
He had the vision, a network of experts, and a plan that could be expanded to take account of the city's future growth. For him this failure overshadowed other achievements as mayor, even preventing sewage discharge into the Waitematā.
Robbie was asked how he would like to be remembered by Aucklanders. He paused for a moment, sighed, and answered: "He tried. He tried."
Jo Bowler, Auckland.
Rail tunnel vision
The fixation on light rail seems to be largely a contest of wills and tunnel vision.
Heavy rail goes already to Puhinui at Manukau City Centre where the distance to the airport is less than 5km.
Ōtāhuhu is less than 7km and I have done this trip often, it is fine.
This will get people into Britomart without the hideous costs anticipated for the proposed light rail.
The equally hideous disruption would be avoided.
The main justification for the light rail system is that it will cost a fortune, enable contractors to make a huge profit and bureaucrats and politicians to enjoy the spoils of being lobbied.
Neville Cameron, Coromandel.
Ample airport transport
Your correspondent (NZ Herald, January 31) has fallen into the trap of thinking Auckland includes only the CBD and North Shore.
There is ample public transport to the airport. The Airporter (bright orange, route 380) departs Ōnehunga and Manukau City every 20 minutes or even more often. Simply catch a train from Britomart to Onehunga or Puhinui, then on to the bus. Both facilities are part of Auckland Transport and the cost is very modest.
If this seems a little awkward, there is always the option of living anywhere along or near to these parts of the transport network.
Judy Lawry, Golflands.
Throughout the course of history, prime ministers worldwide have led governments during times of war, depression, pandemics, massacres, financial crashes, natural and man-made disasters. This comprises the potential "duties and responsibilities" that individuals must anticipate in their quest for a career in politics.
Quite apart from the chaos facilitated by New Zealand's Government during the past two years, Ardern is not an authentic Labour Party prime minister.
In the 1950s and 1960s, at every General Election, my parents unashamedly voted Labour. We were "working class" and the Labour Party was formed to represent that demographic of the population.
However, fast forward to 21st century New Zealand, we have a "celebrity" prime minister for whom the 2020 election night fairydust has evaporated.
It is disingenuous for Ardern to display in her Beehive office a portrait of Michael Joseph Savage, New Zealand's first Labour prime minister, and claim him as "her hero". Roll on 2023!
Leonie Wilkinson, Tuakau.
Denial of sanctuary
Despite her self-assured facade, I have often thought PM Jacinda Ardern resembled a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching truck on a dark highway, not knowing which way to jump.
Never has that image seemed more apt than now with the daily horrors of the ill-conceived and grossly inadequate MIQ system damaging her reputation and our nation's with its brutal and unlawful denial of sanctuary to Kiwis desperate to be able to return home.
Any responsible leader or savvy politician would have made it a top priority to replace MIQ with a home-isolation system long ago.
Rick Mirkin, Muriwai Beach.
Reg Dempster, a supporter of Jacinda Ardern and the Labour government, claims it's easy to criticise when you're sitting in the stands. It's about time he came down out of the stands and on to the real world playing fields.
I, like thousands of other New Zealanders, have lost and continue to lose a great deal of income directly as a consequence to Ms Ardern and the Government's very poor decisions, blinkered vision and refusal to accept sound advice over the past two years.
That's why her popularity has dropped.
M Brown, Hamilton East.
Go Reg Dempster. Keep saying it as it is. Your caring Kiwi observations help to keep us grounded.
Dianne McKinnon, Morrinsville.
What a sad situation. We are having a beautiful hot summer but the majority of Auckland's beaches are unsafe to swim in.
I went to Brown's Bay the other day and as I swam, bobbing along side me was someone's poo.
For years our council have ignored warnings of poor waste water and sewage infrastructure. Now the Government wishes to step in to remedy the situation and suddenly our council are up in arms — "It's ours leave it alone".
Sorry but local council have failed us for many years, it's time to give them the order of the boot and find another way to clean up our golden sandy shores.
Perhaps Government need to inquire where all the money has been spent that Auckland Super City have been gathering over the years, because it doesn't seem to have been spent where it should be.
You only have to look at all of the holes and subsidence in our roads to realise that.
B Jessopp, Massey.
War zone strategies
I have admired Charlotte Bellis's journalistic skills throughout her career but, sadly, the admiration is waning somewhat. There is an increasing element of self entitlement creeping in to each dispatch from her in which we read about her current situation.
There are a few legendary female journalists including Christina Lamb, Orla Guerin and Anita McNaught, who have all been in similar situations while reporting from war zones and trouble spots across the globe.
If Ms Bellis aspires to be numbered among them she should perhaps consider a vital necessity. None of these other named have gone into the fray without first adopting viable exit strategies which don't involve Governments bailing them out when an avoidable situation of their own making comes into play.
A lack of planning on Ms Bellis's part shouldn't require the New Zealand cavalry to rush to her rescue. She would be much wiser to take up the offer of asylum from whichever country has offered it and, from there, carry on her crusade to return to NZ. That would be the most sensible option.
Jeremy Coleman, Hillpark.
Charlotte Bellis is a highly trained, highly intelligent, strong and brave young woman. She has obviously had to use her wits to survive and has the ability to access information and communicate this with skill.
With her desire to return to her home country, she would have made herself aware of opposing parties' negative attack strategies and seen this as an opening for her much wanted/needed move to return through MIQ. She turned down, it seems, a time period given to her and then found difficulty finding another.
In a situation she is in right now, she would feel left with no other alternative than to use her skills in pleading her case using journalistic know-how and her well known personality. She got front page and the predicted cry from the Opposition calling foul.
MIQ is not perfect, the Government is not perfect, but neither are we. It's why we need dispassionate people who handle all these calls from overseas New Zealanders wanting to come home. Each and every one of them is important. In the end it has to be as fair as possible. After all, in a dire situation, wouldn't we pull out all the stops and use our talents if we could to come home?
Emma Mackintosh, Birkenhead.
Short & sweet
The use of gonzo journalism at this time is not helpful. Heart strings and violins chosen over big picture thinking and just and ethical decision making is not a wise path to follow. Being able to see beyond immediate fixits to their inevitable and often negative or unexpected/unintended consequences is what is most needed. Barbara Matthews, Ōnehunga.
On being trapped
Two letters in Monday's Herald are based on the premise that television journalist Charlotte Bellis was trapped in Afghanistan. The fact is that in September, she returned home to Doha, Qatar. She chose to return to Afghanistan after obtaining the Taliban's permission. Barry Towers, Cambridge.
On MIQ emergencies
The Government, MIQ administrators and pregnant TV reporter Charlotte Bellis have all come in for criticism over the handling of her application for emergency MIQ places for her and her boyfriend. One question: Is pregnancy an emergency? Rod Pascoe, Mt Albert.
On gun buyback
Bob Wichman (NZ Herald, January 31) is not quite right. The gun buyback scheme resulted in legitimate gun owners updating their guns and rifles at taxpayer expense. Not sure if many or any illegally owned weapons were recovered at that time. A J Petersen, Kawerau.
The Premium Debate
It was inevitable this tax change would result in shareholders declaring abnormally large dividends. This was hardly an "unintended" consequence of what really is a wealth tax (greed tax) by this government. Of more concern is dragging all that cash out of business. For all we know, it could be going in crypto, moved offshore or reinvested back into property. Either way, it's been removed from the productive economy. Jodi O.
The dividends were prior years' earnings. Civilised governments don't tax earnings retrospectively. If that's what the Green spokesperson means by "fairness", and the National spokesperson suggests should have been done to prevent "avoidance", then they shouldn't hold finance roles. The companies acted rationally. It's what many do when tax increases are coming up. Iain B.
Fantastic income management. These owners of companies paid their full share of taxes due in line with their income. They did not cheat anyone — yet the article implies something underhand went on. Of course, every time any government changes the tax rules, taxpayers make adjustments to their income portfolios to minimise the tax they will pay or at least adjust the income flow to suit their requirements. Dee R.
I have a large shareholding that I receive dividends from. All the dividends I receive are fully taxed at my tax rate. There seem to be plenty of people lining up to call people who invest their hard-earned (taxed) money tax dodgers, which 99 per cent are not. Remember that capital gain is not that until realised (shares sold) and capital losses do not give tax breaks so the risk is all on me. Colin R.