I sit on my terrace looking over the harbour at the Ports of Auckland, which has slowly moved closer to me over the past 25 years. There are three very large eyesores that were installed, dramatically, in what seems like a long time ago.
But why have they never been used to unload cargo? I've never seen a vessel with containers tied up alongside these three ugly things. Do they not fulfil their assumed function of unloading containers? Why are they there? Is there a problem, that we ratepayers (and owners of Ports of Auckland) should know about? They are certainly not there for there beauty. They are not cheap. They appear unused.
Peter Ayton, Devonport.
• Ports of Auckland responds: The three new cranes on the container terminal were delivered in October 2018 and underwent testing and commissioning over the following seven months by the supplier. Ports of Auckland took ownership of the cranes in May this year. Since then, we have been commissioning the cranes' advanced systems such as remote operation and "quad" lifting or lifting four containers at once. The cranes are currently being used for automation testing and they will be used for cargo from February 2020 onwards, when we go-live with the first phase of container terminal automation.
Matt Ball, head of communications, POAL Ltd.
• Major study says Ports of Auckland should close, Northport be developed
• Proposal to rid Ports of Auckland of cars to create public waterfront space
• Plan to barge 250,000 cars off Ports of Auckland revealed: electric ferries and huge solar panelled depot
• Ports of Auckland pens deal to secure world's first electric tugboat
So, the intention is to increase the rates on all our homes and at the same time reduce business rates downwards to the same level.
Wonderful. When that is achieved, will homeowners be able to claim a tax rebate on the amount of rates the same as businesses are able to do?
I doubt that very much, but the reason given for the current action is to make things fairer.
I'm sorry, but I do not understand.
C Augustine, Howick.
Billion dollar surplus
According to Simon Bridges, the Government's several billion dollars in hand are a result of gross incompetence and criminality.
As a simple man of the land, I can but comment thus - long may this incompetence and criminality continue.
My son - an economist, rather than a lawyer - had this to say: "Labour were lucky to inherit a National Party surplus. They are incompetent but not completely."
Maybe there is some truth in what he had to say but I do recall a senior member of the National Party attributing a $10 million Labour Party loss. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between. Personally, I'll go with the surplus and express a wish for more incompetence.
John Rush, Mamaku.
There are two calls for the Government to deal with its massive tax surplus: To spend it or to reduce taxes. And the most common method of reducing taxes called for is to alter the tax brackets which have not been adjusted for inflation for many years. This helps people on middle and upper incomes but does little, if anything, for people on low incomes.
In my opinion, the best thing to do is to either reduce GST to 10 per cent or to have nil income tax on the first $5000. (And the Government would still have money left over to spend if it wanted to.) People on low incomes have not ben compensated for the introduction of GST; nor for the increase to 12.5 per cent, nor for the increase to 15 per cent.
Therefore, it is only fair that people on low incomes be given some relief. If the Government does not do this, then we have to ask if they really want to help people on low incomes to be in charge of their own affairs. We would have to wonder if they prefer to have them dependent on government benefits – which is not for their long-term good.
Yes, with this idea all people are better off – but it assists people on low incomes most.
Brian Taylor, Lynfield.
Simon Bridges has been castigating the Coalition Government for months for a slowing economy but now the govt has a $7 billion surplus, what can he say?
The surplus is due to the economy still going very strong, evident by increased company tax of 14 per cent and increased personal tax take, meaning many people are getting paid more. You cannot fool all the people all the time, Simon.
Paul Carpenter, Rotorua.
In your article on amputations resulting from advanced diabetes, I looked in vain for any mention of diabetes testing protocols and their relative effectiveness.
New Zealand's public system provides only overnight-fasting blood sugar tests, which unfortunately miss a significant proportion of people who do indeed have diabetes. An oral glucose tolerance test would reveal these people, but because this test requires staff and resources for a couple of hours, they are not done.
I suspect many of these unfortunate people who end up getting amputations were told by our health system initially, that "you don't have diabetes", based on a cheap and cheerful test that misses some proportion of diabetes patients.
Philip G Hayward, Lower Hutt.
Dave King thinks he is clever in his dismissal of the vegans protesting in the milk aisle.
In order to lactate and produce milk, the cow must get pregnant. Girl calves are raised as replacement milk machines. Boy calves (bobbies) are an unwanted byproduct and are killed within days of birth.
So yes, boy "cows" are killed in the making of milk.
Lesley Munro, Wellsford.
At the risk of being accused of heresy, your correspondent Thomson Phillips' claim that "rugby is the second biggest team sport played globally" is way off the mark. Rugby, despite the saturation coverage in certain sections of the New Zealand media, rates quite low down in the pantheon of world team sports.
There are about 2.3 million registered rugby players in the world, hugely dwarfed by football's 265m registered players, basketball's 450m and hockey's 200m registered players. The audiences for these three codes measure in the billions, with football by far the most watched team sport. Rugby doesn't even rate in the top six.
Sure, there are 20 nations playing in the current rugby world cup but only a handful play it seriously. Many are there just to fill in the numbers. Uruguay has a mere 5800 registered players and Russia only 20,000 (versus 5.8m registered football players). While the USA has 125,000 rugby players, it has 24m playing football and double that playing basketball. The audience for rugby in North America, most of Europe, Asia and South America is tiny.
Football, basketball, hockey, volleyball and baseball tower over rugby as world team sports.
Jeff Hayward, Auckland Central.
Much has been made, and no doubt will continue to be made, about the "try of the RWC tournament" against Namibia over the weekend. It was certainly one out of the box. However, it would be clear to anyone at North Harbour Stadium on Friday night last watching North Harbour defeat (I repeat, defeat) Wellington 42-34 (yes, 42-34) that the All Blacks had been staying up late watching that game. North Harbour scored not one, but two, such brilliant tries down the side line.
For sure the All Blacks' try had a more spectacular touchdown at the end of the run, but I think the North Harbour tries had the ball carriers running closer to the sideline. Well done North Harbour.
Tony Forsyth, Torbay.
Letters: Parent visas, Nobel prize, climate protests and surplus
Letters: Northport, Kiwibank, cannabis, Australian deportees and rugby
Letters: Power bill discounts, larrikins, Ports of Auckland, elections, Brexit and Bill Rowling
Fix the footpaths
There will be many folk in Auckland like me, who congratulate Evelyn-Kaye Gilbert on her letter regarding the dangerous footpaths we put up with.
We have lived in One Tree Hill for more than 35 years and watched the paths outside our house and around this area deteriorate to a dangerous level.
Ten years ago, when our road was resealed, the council officer in charge of our footpaths told me he had held that position for many years.
We can only hope that a new mayor may have to negotiate these paths with a wheelchair or pushchair and may then change the council staff.
B Mosley, One Tree Hill.
Short & sweet
Building more motorways is the worst possible short-term solution to productivity and sustainability issues; apart from leading to an inevitable increase in vehicular traffic and emissions it diverts the workforce away from construction of houses, hospitals and other infrastructure.
B Darragh, Auckland Central.
For what it's worth, the fiscal surplus was contrived from an accounting exercise, revaluing the railways and the cancelling of billions of dollars of vital roading works.
Rod Kane, Henderson.
Spend it wisely with accountability for every dollar. No tax cuts lolly scramble for the rich.
Marie Kaire, Whangārei.
District Health Boards have in excess of $1 billion of debt. Government announces surplus of $7.5b. Well, surely that solves that problem. Bob Wichman, Botany.
Jacinda Ardern did what any other leader of a country would do in a disaster such as the Christchurch massacre. This does not warrant the Nobel Peace Prize. P Salvador, Hobsonville.
Only by removing the very bad drivers will the road toll come down. Aidan Crabtree, Titirangi.
Who'd love to work at TVNZ, where 250 staff earn more than $100,000? Perhaps teachers should inform students where the real money is. Rex Head, Papatoetoe.
I'm reminded of Mark Twain's quip: "If voting made a difference, they wouldn't let us do it."
Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.