Schools zone moves applauded
Congratulations to the Ministry of Education for being so on the ball regarding the reintroduction of school zoning (NZ Herald, October 20).
The quality of education has declined for far too many students in recent decades, and it is well known that success and failure in the education system highly correlates with pupils' socio-economic status. The introduction of de-zoning in the 1990s has some direct responsibility for this appalling situation; research such as the Smithfield Project demonstrated movement and choice by those parents wealthy enough to do so, ultimately to the detriment of economically poorer communities and their children.
I look forward to policy changes which will ensure every child receives the best education possible, and that this occurs no matter where the child's school is geographically located, or how economically poor its community is. And please, MOE, at the same time, introduce policies which ensure any inequities in zoning rules are removed. One example is that a parent or sibling having attended a school gives priority to a potential pupil – this has echoes of bloodlines/royal privilege and is a common practice in private schools. State schools must all be of the same high quality and serve all equitably. Already some privileged stakeholders are going to the media with their threats (parents may take legal action) and concerns (house values). Kia kaha MOE, your mahi is important and necessary.
Dr Vicki Carpenter, Grey Lynn.
A letter (NZ Herald, October 22) suggests that we already have a wealth tax in the form of GST. As a tax professional working in international development, I must dispute this.
GST is considered by the international tax and development community as a regressive tax, precisely because it is levied on the consumer.
It disproportionately impacts those on lower incomes who, the world over, spend a greater proportion of their income on goods and services and therefore pay more of their income towards GST than wealthier citizens.
GST is a drain on lower-income resources in a far greater way than it is on the wealthy. It is in recognition of this that many countries (but not ours) exempt or zero-rate GST on essentials like groceries, books and children's apparel. The OECD, IMF, World Bank and others have papers explaining this topic in greater detail.
If anything, GST is a poor tax, not a wealth one.
Gabrielle Beran, Takapuna.
Gary Andrews (NZ Herald, October 21) and others imagine that by falling just short of a majority share of the total votes reported on election night, Labour's new government could be outvoted by a grand coalition of all the other parties. This ignores two important points.
First: there were 179,414 votes (7.53 per cent of the election night count) cast for the 12 minor parties that failed to clear the 5 per cent threshold to have seats in the new Parliament. This "wasted vote" is effectively reallocated to those parties that did exceed 5 per cent, meaning that Labour's 49.1 per cent share of all votes cast translates to 53.1 per cent of seats in the House, a narrow but very real majority.
Secondly: the Greens and the Māori Party, with a collective 8.6 per cent of votes cast, can be counted on to disagree with Labour on numerous issues, but are extremely unlikely to join with National and Act in a grand coalition to oppose a Labour government. Even if they did all gang up on one particular issue, their collective vote in the House would be 56 to the Government's 64.
Although some 480,000 Special and Overseas Votes will probably tweak the above numbers, the final pattern is now clear.
Graeme Easte, Mt Albert.
Correspondent Stephen Alpe (NZ Herald, October 21) is correct that candidates defeated at an election should be out and not able to return via the party list. A candidate should stand in the electorate vote or on the list.
Perhaps, to more fairly represent the electorate, the voters should determine the list as well and not the parties? All candidates should stand for an electorate. Those unsuccessful go into a repechage pool, then the candidate with the highest votes becomes number one down to the number of persons required to make up the proportions required by the votes.
The Epsom situation where a party stands down to let another party get a seat should not be allowed. With fine tuning, MMP is fair system
Richard Horner, Cambridge.
I was interested to see the selectivity by Stephen Alpe in his letter (NZ Herald, October 21).
He says that Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith, having both lost their electorates, should resign immediately, their decision to remain as list MPs being unconscionable.
How about this? In 2017, one Winston Peters was voted out of his Northland seat. Despite also having no electoral voter mandate, not only did he stay on the list, but he exercised his MMP power to insert Labour as the governing party. From memory, on the night, Labour achieved 37 per cent of the vote, National 44.
One thing I do agree on is that MMP is a system capable of being grotesquely misused.
Phil Sheat, Stonefields.
The Prime Minister is wise to recognise that she has a mandate to govern in consultation rather than coalition. She would recognise that part of her landslide came from tactical voting by otherwise blue voters in an effort to keep the wacky elements in the Green Party at bay.
That does not threaten advancing environmental issues, but allows it to be based on sane reasoning and good science. We have seen some dangerous examples of coalition party leverage and we do not need more of it as we set our house in order.
Hugh Webb, Hamilton.
As one of the police officers who worked on Mt Erebus in November 1979 recovering those who died in the Air New Zealand DC10 tragedy, I am disappointed a group of people are still trying to impose their view on where the Erebus Memorial should be located.
It is now some 41 years since the disaster and still we do not have a national memorial to remember the 257 people who died; that in itself is a disgrace.
The group is obviously committed to diverting the placing of the memorial away from the location for which it was designed — in their neighbourhood.
Dove-Myer Robinson Park is a public location to which all of the people have access. It is not the private domain of a select few who live in the area.
I would have thought it an honour to have the memorial located in the park to remember those who died.
Greg Gilpin, Horowhenua.
It was sad reading (NZ Herald, October 21) that Sir Owen Glenn had paid $40m towards legal fees, forcing Eric Watson to honour his part of the deal. Needless to say, this amount of money would've gone a long way as a donation towards education (to which Sir Owen has already contributed greatly), child poverty or our health system.
On the contrary, now we may well see Eric Watson locked up in prison, technically a waste of money, when all could've been avoided by being less greedy in the first place.
A decade-long sad story, which has become sadder towards the end.
René Blezer, Taupō.
President Trump said Sudan will be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism (NZ Herald, October 21) if they pay US$335 million to American terror victims and families.
So the Sudanese, who have managed finally to overthrow an oppressive and lunatic military regime, are to be "rewarded" with a bill for the actions of the regime they have overthrown.
Providing that the poor pay US$335m to the rich, they then might become eligible for loans to have the money to fix their broken country and feed their starving.
So incalculably, miserably mean. Like billing a homeless guy for repairing the pavement he sleeps on before he can sleep on it again.
This is humankind.
A Olissoff, Mt Eden.
The article "Post-War generosity of Kiwis never forgotten" (NZ Herald, October 15) made me recall my mother telling me that she and my father had sent food parcels to members of his extended family in England post-WWII.
After my mother's passing aged 95 in 2013, I found a letter from a family member, thanking my parents for the parcels, the second of which had recently arrived.
The letter was dated January 8, 1948. One item singled out was shaving cream, which I gather was a luxury back then, as no doubt were all items sent as it seems the parcel arrived at the festive season 1947-48.
Bruce Alexander, Henderson.
Short & sweet
For the torrent of dissent to slow to such a trickle, it is clear that - even on the right -there is a real appetite to finally dispense with the neoliberalism of the previous four governments. Andrew Draper, Whangarei.
Don't fight to catch a hospital pass after you've helped to run down the hospitals. Lloyd Blythen, Warkworth.
Why do those who changed camps and party-voted Labour think Ardern will not involve the Greens? Who else to blame when things go awry? A J Petersen, Kawerau.
National lost because the Labour Party had a more popular leader. I know it's not supposed to be a presidential-style election but it was obvious people liked Jacinda more than Judith. Tony Barnett, Pukekohe.
I will be interested to see if our Government is going to join the growing international effort in getting the giant corporations to pay their correct share of taxes. Lord knows we need the money. B Watkin, Devonport.
Russia reported 16,000 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday. Is it really necessary to run the risk of bringing so many of these workers to our borders? Ann Cameron, St Heliers.
On Queen St
The person responsible for the destruction of Auckland's premier shopping street has some serious explaining to do. Why transform this area something resembling a permanent construction site with concrete blocks and plastic posts? Lucas Bonné, Unsworth Heights.
When the White House is rid of this corrupt, divisive, narcissistic, compulsive liar can we please have the formerly erudite, rational, insightful and likeable Leighton Smith back? Brent Cooper, Coatesville.