Clients depend on agents
International travel was the first sector to be impacted by Covid-19, and will be the last to recover. Our wage subsidy extension finished on July 31, not September as most think.
The Government has assisted some in the tourism sector, but nothing for outbound travel agents. We have been working tirelessly since lockdown, cancelling our clients' trips, obtaining refunds from airlines, hotels, cruise lines etc. Our income is also refunded. The travel industry estimates we are holding around $2 billion in client credits. We hold around $1 million in my agency alone. Now we are working for free, otherwise this money is potentially lost for good. We have a moral obligation to assist our loyal customers with these credits. We are desperate for targeted funding to keep our stores open. Kelvin Davis, the Minister of Tourism is seriously out of touch, and clearly has no idea of the implication for thousands of everyday Kiwis who are relying on us to ensure they get to use these credits. Our survival, and the recovery of our clients' funds, rests with this Government. We can only last so much longer. Where is the kindness for the travel industry, Jacinda?
Chris Hammonds, World of Travel, Mt Eden
Entry point of pressure
After listening to the endless calls for opening up our borders to overseas foreign students and workers, I am amazed to hear intelligent Kiwis, John Key included, not getting the point that every entry of each person puts our population at risk. We already are at capacity in our 30-plus isolation centres and each official, inclusive of the personnel needed to carry out duties involved in security, food supplies, nursing staff etc, is acknowledged as a potential weak link in the process of trying to keep this virus from leaking into the community. Ashley Bloomfield is realistic when he talks about when, not if, we see infection in the community once again. Those voices are irresponsibly putting enormous pressure on the very people we should be thanking for keeping us safe. Business will not be productive if this virus takes hold again. Just look to the United States for lessons about what not to do if you want your economy to survive. Let common sense prevail, forget the "economic gurus". Their bottom line will always be profit, not lives.
Claire Bradley, Torbay
Protect us more
We both feel the same way and cannot understand why our Government is not protecting us more from this Covid-19 virus. They are allowing people to come to this country with the virus, when it is obvious to us that nobody should be allowed to board an aircraft bound for New Zealand unless they are clear of it. They must have a clear test before boarding or they risk being turned back at the border. Even if they enter the country clear of Covid-19 they still need to be quarantined to be completely sure. They should also pay for their quarantine accommodation. Returning Kiwis have had more than enough time to return to this country. We hear all the sob stories but remember, they chose to leave in the first instance. It is not our fault that their chosen country has failed them.
Clinton Gunn & Gary Stewart, Foxton Beach
Time for gratitude
To all those who are moaning about being in managed isolation, how about showing some gratitude. All for free, you have a warm dry roof over your head, unlike many Kiwis who live in cars, tents, etc. You receive three cooked meals every day, unlike many Kiwis who endure lining up at food banks in order to feed their families. You have running hot showers and no power bill to pay, unlike many Kiwis who crowd in together to share rent and power accounts. You only have to "endure" this for a measly two short weeks, unlike many Kiwis who live permanently in poverty and would give their eye teeth to enjoy two weeks' holiday in a four-star hotel. Get over yourselves and appreciate that you have entered one of the few Covid-free countries in the World. Lucky you!
Marie Kaire, Whangarei
As a long-suffering Auckland ratepayer I was unsurprised to receive a rates bill for 2020/21 that is 4.4 per cent higher than the previous year. So much for the council's 3.5 per cent rates increase, imposed after ignoring those who expressed a desire for no increase but voted for 2.5 per cent, being the lowest amount offered. No doubt the council will say that the average rates increase is 3.5 per cent but we are never shown any evidence that this is the case - and surely all ratepayers should be treated equally. Over the last six years our rates have increased by a total of 31.7 per cent. During the same period the Consumer Price Index rose by 7.4 per cent. There appears to be no reason why rates should have outpaced inflation by more than four times over this period. Services have deteriorated, not improved. A thorough independent investigation into the burgeoning costs of the bureaucracy that is Auckland Council should be undertaken forthwith. Central government could assist by legislating that rates cannot be increased above the rate of inflation, and by removing GST on rates.
Grant Westcott, Greenlane
Leadership in all countries is the big factor with Covid-19. The United States is in a mess because of President Donald Trump's abysmal leadership – he is the complete opposite to Jacinda Ardern. Brazil is the same, with President Jair Bolsonaro. Many people overlook the primary role of leadership – being competent is fundamental but equally important is their role to lead, and especially in a crisis. Jacinda's skill in pulling New Zealand together was superb - she encouraged us all to do our bit for the family of five million, and helped us understand this was a time to forget about "me". The people expect and want to be shown leadership – that leadership is a huge factor in people's attitude – it stirs emotions like "yes, we can do this together". Look at what has happened in Sweden where Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has virtually allowed Covid to do its thing. His complete lack of leadership and not listening to the experts has cost 5747 lives, while Denmark, Finland, and Norway have a combined total of 1203. Sweden has the fifth-highest per capita death toll and with simple borders to manage, it's an appalling outcome.
Roger Kenah, Te Atatu Sth.
Hong Kong's differences
In response to Frank Olsson's letter dated July 31. Nearly 90 per cent of Hong Kong's population are Cantonese, who speak their own language, write traditional Chinese, have values and customs different from the Mainland. To compare the two is like comparing Swiss to German. Hong Kong was fortunately a colony, it provided a safe haven for millions of refugees fleeing China's civil wars, Japanese invasion and political upheavals from the 1950s to the 1970s. I was born in the 1950s. Life in Hong Kong was good, nobody died of starvation while about 30 million died in China. We did not have general elections, but we were not forced to chant slogans, spy on our parents, brainwashed to adore the "Great Leader". History is a chain of events. While it is unethical for British merchants to flood China with opium, the Qing ruler could have handled the trading negotiations with more acumen. China imposed the security law as an excuse to take the people's voice away.
Brenda Chu, Tauranga
SHORT & SWEET
Yesterday while travelling to Auckland from Waiheke Island by Fullers ferry just south of The Neck, we passed within 100m of an outgoing container ship (no problem there). But to my amazement between us in the middle of the shipping channel was a small kayak, fishing. Why do we allow these idiots to risk themselves and other's livelihoods by being there? Fishing or swimming in a busy commercial channel is like standing in the middle of a motorway with field glasses birdwatching. Selfish madness.
Will Menzies, Waiheke
On Five Eyes
I find it hard to see any advantage for us to be part of the Five Eyes coalition. It means that at any time soon we will be instructed to forgo the use of Huawei, the most advanced 5G system available. For the United States to quote national security is a complete fabrication. It is just further insult to our biggest trading partner. We will never have a free trade agreement with the US and to upset China on instruction from President Donald Trump on a trumped-up argument is courting a major backlash.
Vincent West, Milford
On hydro scheme
Your correspondent Pete Tashkoff couldn't be more incorrect when praising this current Government's "vision" of a pumped hydro scheme. If you take 30 mins to read why the same scheme was such an abject failure in the Snowy River, Australia, you will understand that the science and reality don't match the ideology. This will be $30 million spent on research that will go nowhere. The only beneficiaries of this "vision" will be the highly paid consultants on yet another working group.
Nick Margison, Mt Albert
Interesting to see how some of the more controversial MPs are blaming the system for their demise and actions. I believe that its a job that attracts a certain calibre of people, many of whom have quite unsavoury personality traits, as has recently been borne out. Especially so given the perks and incredible job protection that it offers.
Paul Beck, West Harbour
What seems to be ignored by some participants in the future of infrastructure investment debate is that electric vehicles also need roads to run on.
Jeffrey Langford, Belmont