Political studies needed
Steve Liddle's call for political education among the young (NZ Herald, January 13) is absolutely spot on.
At every election we ask: "What can be done to make voting more attractive to people, especially young people?"
The answer surely, as Liddle points out, is in that word "educate". Civics, democracy and political history should be taught in schools, as compulsory subjects, from age 12.
Until the voter can make proper, educated and enlightened analysis of what it really is our politicians and political parties are offering, we will continue to make egregious mistakes at voting time.
New Zealand is too small to afford unenlightened elections, the outcomes of which continue to be decided by such abiding voter ignorance.
More than a third of eligible voters didn't vote last election – this is a catastrophic situation for a country the size of ours, that purports to be a democracy.
If we can make voting as important a subject in school as learning English, maths or science, then our children will grow up with a much better understanding of why they should vote, how to decide what and who to vote for, and what a privilege it is to be part of a democracy, and able to have their say in how their country is run.
Clyde Scott, Birkenhead.
Simon Wilson's well researched, informative and profound article "This Broken Country" (NZ Herald, January 11) gives insight into the years and years of neglect by previous governments to a once proud country of human decency.
One of the worst offenders not mentioned was National's Bill Birch and his promotion of The Employment Contracts Act in 1991, a law that removed compulsory unionism, handing more control to employers. Birch was adamant that this law change was good for New Zealand. Within four years union membership almost halved, which then had a devastating effect on workers rights and living standards.
This, and Ruth Richardson's "Mother of All Budgets" (what an insult to women) mentioned in Simon's article, led to the demise of a once healthy society. At the stroke of two pens, these acts took money from those who needed support - women, children, the sick, those with disabilities, the unemployed - and handed the power to management.
There is no need to look around and ask why people are in the place they are today. We should instead look at countries that have a strong social structure in place for its people with a strong union-based network alongside. Germany, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Finland and other Nordic countries have strong centralised unions.
What a shame we let go of ours.
Emma Mackintosh, Birkenhead.
From what I read (NZ Herald, January 13) the Education and Training Bill, if passed into law, will both address existing education delivery inconsistencies and enhance the delivery of education across the sector.
In the interview with Minister Hipkins, one aspect reported is that the act will "state categorically that children are entitled to attend school full-time for all the hours it is open for instruction, regardless of their learning needs". The Ministry of Education is referenced as saying they have received "consistent feedback for years from parents and disability groups that students are being asked not to attend school full-time because the school cannot support them". The new act will apparently deal with that.
However, this will only work if, in addition to this legislation, all schools are appropriately resourced to provide the range of additional support needed for these students.
Peter Huggard, Waiheke Island.
How can Iran claim the death of 176 people was "unintentional"?
Someone made a deliberate decision to fire a weapon to take down the plane. This type of technology must surely take several steps to activate - it couldn't be so easy to use that a person could trip and truly "accidentally" cause hundreds of deaths.
There is also the underlying reality that there was a weapon there that could cause all these deaths. That was no accident, that was intentional.
The path to peace requires many steps including intentional planning and not pathetic lies dressed up as excuses for the inexcusable.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Aus.
Your correspondent Bob Wichman (NZ Herald, January 13) is correct that 176 people have died in the Tehran air tragedy. I agree that the Rouhani government should take more responsibility over the conduct of the Revolutionary Guard in this incident.
However, I would like to point out that the United States government has never taken responsibility for the July 3, 1988, deaths of 274 people when the USS Vincennes shot down an Iran Air Airbus A300 on route from Tehran to Dubai. Where was the Western indignation then? The US has never even apologised for this, even though Vincennes was illegally inside Iranian territorial waters.
Geoff Aldwinckle, West Harbour.
Aucklanders should be more concerned by the way in which the tax on petrol is being spent, not by the rate (NZ Herald, January 13). To impose new forms of transport on an existing road pattern only creates congestion and inefficiency.
Cycle lanes that do not connect are useless and to combine them with bus lanes is dangerous. Either buses cross and recross cycle lanes to pick up passengers or cyclists ride through people entering or leaving the bus.
The classic example can be seen where all cyclists from the eastern suburbs enter Quay St. After the bus stop, the city-bound cycle lane becomes a bus lane and it reappears as half of the majestic portside cycle way - but no crossing of Quay St is provided.
Is safety not an issue to Auckland Transport?
J Billingsley, Parnell
Bernard Orsman's item (NZ Herald, January 13) was headlined "Dishonest underspend" for Auckland Council's current year roading expenditures.
The council has underspent its budget ... so what? Both private firms and other councils do it all the time.
Even a first-year accounting student can tell the difference between a cash deficit of expenditure and an accruals-based calculation for project work in progress receipts and payments.
Timing differences of project income and expenditures arise from myriad unremarkable circumstances, including such things as physical project completion, weather and material supply delay issues.
The real question of public concern is to see that project funds unspent at some point are not diverted elsewhere.
Now Auckland Council salaries on the other hand, deserve much closer critical analysis.
Larry Mitchell, Rothesay Bay.
Jamie Horton (NZ Herald, January 12) reports that 115,000-130,000 years ago the Earth was more than 1C warmer than today. Oceans were 6m to 9m higher.
I believe that the Earth has its own time clock. I understand that the Earth has warmed to this level many times over billions of years. An Ice Age following a warming period would see shore line advance about a further 100 to 200 metres,
This has also happened repeatedly. Walking to school in Whanganui in the early 1940s during winter, ice was still on the ground whilst walking home. I believe that the seasons have gone forward six to eight weeks, hence our mild winter and spring extending to January.
We need more science reports. Scientists are doing a great job in Antarctica, which I understand was at some time a forest of trees.
Peter Walden, Rotorua.
After reading Renton Brown's and Grant Spencer's letters about Trivago's massive advertising campaign, I'm sure a big number of TV viewers, including myself, are of the same opinion and use the mute key.
What the company does not seem to realise is that so much advertising creates a negative response by viewers and they finally disregard that advertising, thus creating a diminishing demand.
Eric Strickett, Henderson.
Recently several people have been getting hot under their collar about the cost of men's and women's hairdressing.
When my wife goes to the hairdresser her visit usually takes about 45 minutes, when I go it takes about 10. She pays about two and a half times what I pay for an appointment that is four and a half times as long.
Where's the "price gouging" in that? Should I complain I'm being overcharged?
Peter Richards, Punganui.
Letters: Highways, global affairs, fire dangers, house prices, Iraq and plastic bottles
Letters: Air horror, fossil fuels, wage facts and 'God help Harry'
Letters: Haircut, royals, Matthew Hooton, boomers and Iran
Short & sweet
I wish to offer Mr & Mrs Harry & Meghan Windsor "all the best" for their future. Mike Wells, Kawerau.
You cannot be a royal just when it suits you, you are either in or out. Paul Patel, Waiatarua.
If I decide to leave a company, whether I am CEO or receptionist, I would not expect to still be called the CEO or receptionist. Janet Boyle, Orewa
It is extraordinary that your article on the melting of the west Antarctic ice sheet, which of course is blamed on human emissions, could find no room to mention the approximately 91 active volcanoes under this region. David Gibbs, Beach Haven.
On bush fires
There is about 30,000ha of eucalyptus plantations in New Zealand and there are thousands of koalas in Australia that have no home and no food because of the bush fires. Let us help this endangered species from extinction. C C McDowall, Rotorua.
More articles please on the naming of Auckland's maunga. I grew up in the area and have followed the tree debate with interest being on the "keep the trees" side as I mostly recall Ōwairaka as "no trees" all my childhood. Lynne Lagan, Hauraki.
A writer has suggested that much suffering could be avoided with more "hopes and prayers". These are currently free, and it would seem worthwhile to create a research fund for a new "Ministry of Hopes and Prayers" to see how they could become more effective. Peter Cleghorn, Kerikeri.
Your correspondent writes that Trivago ads equal mute. Harvey Norman ads make me wish I was deaf. Brent Copper, Coatesville.