Jeremy King is so right (NZ Herald, February 16) noting the lack of will by political parties (when in power) to tax wealth gains at the expense of productive ways to boost the economy.
There has been refreshing attention by politicians to expert advice re Covid-19 but no evidence they are listening to academics when addressing taxation on residential property. There's plenty of opinion, especially from bankers and property gurus, but little expert taxation advice.
Quoting from the Minority Report of the Tax Working Group: "we consider that a simpler option could be to apply the risk-free return method (RFRM), or something similar, to residential housing. This method taxes net equity in an asset at a fixed rate each year."
Commentaries by academics who have studied these things deserve scrutiny and discussion. Professor Craig Elliffe and Associate Professor Susan St John have internationally recognised expertise. Why no searching questioning of the Labour Party about any objections to the RFRM?
In view of the issues post-Covid and the cruel escalation of house prices, it has the mandate to implement changes which could be swift and effective.
Janfrie Wakim, Epsom.
The suggestion from Audrey Young (NZ Herald, February 16) that the weak link in the (testing) system is the private sector, is outrageous.
The chain of command and control starts at the top and the fact that the private sector has instituted voluntary testing indicates their mistrust of a testing chain that should have been enforced and overseen by the Ministry of Health. Testing further down the chain should have been compulsory after the last border failure and supplemented by saliva testing, not left to the individual firms.
Michael Barnett, chief executive, Auckland Business Chamber.
Charlie Hadrell is quite right (NZ Herald, February 16) about the barbarism of felling mature native trees. The felling is mostly by developers who have just bought the property.
Economists employed by banks have failed us by their continuing inability to put a dollar value on trees. The banks should put them to work to produce such figures and then offer better mortgage terms to those who agree to leave the trees on site.
The banks are the only institution with the power to preserve trees in residential areas. Even the Ministry of Education sees fit to strip schools of trees when it should be custodian.
Our suburbs are being transformed into treeless slums, which ironically reduces the banks' overall equity in the city as whole. And that's not just the "leafy suburbs". Even comparatively bare suburbs are being stripped of what few trees they have.
Martin Ball, Kelston.
In her speech to the New Zealand diplomatic corps on Waitangi Day, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta spoke about her intention to apply a "values-based approach" to our foreign policy. These include our championing human rights.
It will be interesting to see how this approach is applied to Frank Bainimarama, PM of Fiji, who recently threw out the vice-chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, apparently because he was a threat to public safety. The vice-chancellor was trying to clean up corruption in the university, a regionally funded Pacific institution, and this may provide a clue as to why he has upset the government of Fiji.
New Zealand's response has been deep disinterest, very much in keeping with the policy of appeasement our foreign ministers and foreign ministry have adopted over the past decade when it comes to Bainimarama. Using our values as a compass is not that straightforward, it seems. We should take up Samoa's offer to relocate the USP to Apia. That would be appropriate, bold, and values-based.
Dr Simon Mark, Wellington.
I find it utterly unbelievable that our government has sold expertise to the Saudi dictators (NZ Herald, February 10) who have been bombarding Yemen for the past six years - since 2014. To me this is like aiding and abetting the next-door paedophile, knowing full well what he gets up to.
The Saudis wanted to install their own stooge in Yemen but the Yemenis kicked him out and he ran to the bosoms of his dictator friends.
Unlike other Arab countries, which are run by dictators and self-proclaimed kings, it is worth knowing that Yemen is a social democracy. According to the Old Testament it was once ruled by Queen Sheba and King Solomon proposed to her so he could control the wealth of that nation. It is a wealthy land and sits at a strategic corner of the world.
Ahmed Asgher, Oratia.
Turning the tied
Trevor Mallard's entirely abysmal behaviour over the "rapist" debacle would have, in any well regulated Parliament, led to his immediate dismissal. No such luck here.
For Mallard knows he will never be dismissed by this Government, but also knows the court of public opinion is swinging against him. An ego like Mallard's cannot tolerate that.
So, hey presto, let's make a song and dance about men's neckwear. The media will grab it with both hands and all of a sudden it's bigger than Texas. Then let's play the peacemaker and, hey presto again, all is forgiven and calm and order reigns.
What "rapist" debacle?
Mike Newland, Matakana.
Nigel Bufton (NZ Herald, February 16) is just the latest of numerous correspondents to call for total closure of the border. Perhaps they think that we are being swamped by Covid cases - probably because the media routinely reports new cases but rarely notes their inevitable recoveries.
The vast majority of the more than 100,000 returnees did not have Covid on arrival. Taking the last complete three-month period from November to the end of January nearly 30,000 Kiwis returned, of whom just 344 (1.15 per cent) tested positive for Covid, none required hospital care, and every last one has since recovered. In fact, there were 351 recoveries in that period, slightly exceeding new cases.
Graeme Easte, Mt Albert.
Covid-19 statistics show 108 million confirmed cases, with 2.4 million deaths worldwide. This means that 105.6 million people have recovered without having been vaccinated. Many of these deaths have been elderly and immune system compromised people with underlying health issues.
The logical conclusion is that more emphasis should be placed on the fact that having a good naturally strong or supplementarily supported immune system is important to beating this virus.
Graham Johnson, Ōrewa.
We have an abundance of caution on outbreaks but continue to ignore the obvious returnee risk. Covid-19 is different to Covid now in 2021. It is probably 70 per cent more transmissible and arguably 30 per cent more deadly like the UK strain.
Epidemiologists would prefer a reduced intake to hotels not designed for "Covid in 21" and a simple way to do this is to eliminate all our riskier hotels with poor ventilation. Another is to block returnees from risky countries until we are vaccinated. We also need spare facilities to cope with an outbreak.
We are at peak risk right now, pre-vaccines; lockdown has been a blessing in disguise to stimulate Covid tracer app and Bluetooth engagement.
Steve Russell, Hillcrest.
Ministry of Works
Your correspondent Vivian McPhail is quite correct (NZ Herald, February 16). We do indeed "desperately need properly designed specially built quarantine facilities on-site at ports of entry".
And if we still had the Ministry of Works (MOW), and the Government Architect's office, such facilities could by now be getting built, if they were not already up and running. The MOW and the office of the Government Architect provided well-designed, well-built, cost-effective buildings and public facilities of various sorts in New Zealand for many decades, and they did it so efficiently that no one realised what a good job they were doing. The MOW existed for over 100 years and the Govt Architect's office for over 50. If they still existed then the state housing shortage need never have arisen.
The question now is not whether is too expensive, or difficult, to reinstate these, but rather whether it too expensive not to do so. The answer seems abundantly clear.
Claire Chambers, Parnell.
Short & sweet
Break a 4-year-old's leg and get home detention? I presume a jail sentence is reserved for when you kill him. Disgusting. Pim Venecourt, Pāpāmoa.
Minister Hipkins is "comfortable" with current Covid-19 level restrictions. Considering he and every other bureaucrat and public sector employee continues to be paid, I am not surprised. Mark McCluskey, Red Beach.
Oh dear, the precious petals of the Waikato chapter of the Mongrel Mob are feeling intimidated (NZ Herald, February 16). My heart bleeds for them. John Capener, Kawerau.
Jacinda Ardern's description of the Auckland checkpoint shambles as a "very clear miscommunication" gets the prize for best oxymoron of 2021, thus far. Duncan Pardon, Beachlands.
I have only three words to say to Scott Morrison: Eve Van Grafhorst. Chick Dubber, Highland Park.
I support the words of our Prime Minister who said: "things are very different where children are involved". I expect our country will do the right thing and bring this mother and children to New Zealand. Isabelle Sherrard, Auckland Central.
If Australia doesn't want an Isis terrorist, because she was born on our shores, we should start the process of returning the man convicted of the Christchurch mosque shooting. John Ford, Taradale.