Time to rethink rating levels
Auckland Council must reconsider plans which were based on providing for a huge population increase.
Immigration and tourism projections are halted amid fears that re-opening our borders will bring a fresh tide of Covid-19 to our shores. It's not just loss of expected overseas funds making many projects uneconomic, a loss of income from businesses expected to fail will force a scaling down of our economy.
Revaluation of properties three years ago burdened many ratepayers with huge rates increases, based on the rise in capital value of their properties. Those values may be unattainable now, leaving current rates even without an increase, as exorbitant and unreasonable.
It's good the $30 million mooring dolphin extensions to Queens Wharf have been shelved. CCO Ateed could be merged with Regional Facilities to save a lot of unnecessary expense and thumb-twiddling happening there. Trams from the CBD to the airport have suddenly become more ludicrous than ever. Ports of Auckland doesn't need to move to Northland any time soon. Imports will hopefully be of essential goods rather than tat ending up in landfills.
Recovery must be focused on what we need rather than based on excesses of the past. Auckland Council must lead the way with a realistic rethink on rates and expenditure.
Coralie van Camp, Remuera.
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• Covid 19 coronavirus: Auckland Council to discuss financial impacts behind closed doors
Some senior leaders, including our Prime Minister, are taking a 20 per cent pay cut for a short period. These are people on hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, of course.
Could I suggest that the Prime Minister and others, instead of dropping 20 per cent for six months, could emulate many New Zealanders, particularly small business owners, who have taken a 100 per cent cut for an indefinite length of time, possibly forever in many cases.
Let them apply for government assistance along with everyone else, fill out the forms, wait on the phone, then try and live on what they are offered.
Forgoing their income altogether for a significant period would be a truly meaningful gesture, and would help people on an astronomical income understand the anguish of having it stop dead, through no fault of their own.
Covid-19 has presented the 1 per cent with this unprecedented opportunity to experience life as it is for the rest of us.
Susan Grimsdell, Auckland Central.
Rowan Hill is "happy" to support small business with her tax (NZ Herald, April 21) but thinks the quid pro quo is a capital gains tax on the same.
While it is predictable the pandemic will be used to justify new taxes, this seems rather "unkind" at this moment when small business owners are watching their livelihood, life's work and - in some cases their homes, mortgaged to support the business - go down the Covid-19 drain.
Sadly for NZ Inc, many will not recover at all.
June Kearney, West Harbour.
The Government's failure to address the burden of rents on small business is immensely disappointing.
The only gesture has been to extend from 10 days to 30 days the amount of notice a landlord must give a tenant before the lease can be terminated.
The futility of that change reminds me of the1975 movie Love and Death . In the opening scene, the hero, played by Woody Allen, is sitting in a prison cell saying "I'm to be executed this morning at 6 o'clock. It was to be 5 o'clock, but I had a good lawyer who got me leniency".
Keith Berman, Remuera.
In reply to Vincent Fong's thoughtful letter (NZ Herald, April 21), yes, we are having to play "an ugly but effective 10-man game". But surely, we've had many weeks in which to plan. We could have expanded our contact-tracing team. We could have tested earlier and more widely. If our backline is inadequate it's management's fault.
The choice has never been between lockdown and "letting this pandemic run loose". The choice has always been between a blunt approach or a nuanced approach.
This Government has chosen the former, whilst making the strange decision to allow borders to remain porous, and favouring self-isolation over quarantine.
A nuanced approach might have allowed groundsmen, arborists, lawnmowers, gardeners, butchers, bakers, greengrocers, florists and small hardware merchants to keep trading. Instead their livelihoods have been decimated.
Few commentators are "clamouring to exit the lockdown" for an immediate return to pre-virus activity, but many feel that the economic damage need not have been so severe.
Chris Elias, Mission Bay.
The tourist industry is a very important industry and one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. We have been urged to take our tours or holidays in New Zealand, which makes good sense.
I am 83, in good health, and like travelling. Also I have the time and money to travel, and would like to support the local tourist industry, particularly motels, cafes and restaurants.
There are probably a great many elderly people like me, with the time and the money to travel. I can't speak for them all, but I will only travel when I am sure I have no risk of catching the Covid-19 virus.
For this to be the case, one of two conditions is essential - either the virus must be eradicated or an effective vaccine available. The latter is unlikely to occur in the near future, but there seems a very good chance the virus will be eradicated.
I look forward to this and will be very grateful to our Government, especially our PM, and also all the under-70s who have made the lockdown effective.
Laurie Wesley, Birkenhead.
Both sides, now
It is so lovely walking up Mangawhau every morning with almost no sound from the city, only birds in trees and quiet talking.
One annoying exception: the new fad of wearing earphones and yelling loud one-sided phone conversations.
Sometimes the shouters seem to be trying to hold the phone at two metres to help with social distancing.
I have joined in once or twice as I pass, wishing the person on the other end a good day and some sensible advice based on the one side I've been able to hear.
Council regulation is needed - both sides of the conversations should be amplified so we don't get just half the story.
Peter Lange, Mt Eden.
Cycle of change
Your correspondent S Brodie (NZ Herald, April 21) asks what will it take to keep people cycling when we are given more freedom?
The answer is quite simple - the continuation of good weather.
As soon as the wind and rain arrives people will retreat back into the warmth and comfort of their own cars.
Peter Lewis, Forrest Hill.
Brenda Barnes' letter (NZ Herald, April 21), reminded me of the time when, freshly arrived from Europe, I saw a white line running along the length of footpaths on Auckland's main streets.
I did not know at the time that pedestrians were supposed to walk on the pavement in the same direction as traffic drives on the road, thereby avoiding other walkers coming from the opposite direction.
It may have seemed a bit odd at the time, but now of course, in these times of crowded footpaths, it makes perfect sense.
Robert Scoliege, Hamilton East.
It has taken no less than seven years for a court to finally release publicly the name of an offender convicted of lewd behaviour and who just so happens to be a doctor (NZ Herald, April 21).
I wonder how much that has cost the taxpayer? I would almost guarantee that had that offence been committed by, say, a factory worker, then this case would have been done and dusted in a matter of weeks and with that person in all likelihood doing time in a cell.
Good on this judge for applying the law, irrespective of the status of the perpetrator, although it would seem that status did factor into this case given the time involved.
Paul Beck, West Harbour.
Letters: Climate crisis, childcare, Pike River Mine, masks and the Northern Pathway
Letters: Capital gains, gratitude, schools and the Northern Pathway
Letters: Appaling attitude, other Covids and card games
Simon Wilson's enthusiasm for shifting Auckland's port to Northport (NZ Herald, April 17) is at odds with his appeals to support measures to reduce the impacts of climate change.
The Upper North Island Supply Chain report advocated replacing container movements, which now average 15km, with 150km trips from and to the port. In October, the NZ Institute of Economic Research calculated this would lead to increases in carbon emissions of 92,665 tonnes if carried by rail and 138,774 tonnes if by road.
The main justification for the Northport option comes from Susan Krumdieck, a Canterbury engineering professor. She claims keeping the port operations where they are will cost $8 billion to $14b, but the article gives no basis for these costs or their timeframe.
To accuse the port of clogging up roads, without stating its share of local traffic, ignores the new $315 million project for a freight rail line from the port to Wiri which will avoid 175,000 annual freight movements on highways.
What we need is a constructive approach to upper North Island freight transport needs, identifying which cargoes are suited to a revamped Northland rail line but recognising ships make a greater contribution to minimising carbon emissions and congestion than trucks and trains.
David Holm, Mt Roskill
Short & sweet
We have changed from Boomers to Zoomers. D Hoekstra, Papakura.
"Next to no deaths" following the date of lockdown means the scare stories were untrue and full lockdown was unnecessary. Phil Hayward, Naenae.
It looks like there is a lot of rorting in the taxpayer-funded wage subsidy scheme. I hope this Government fully investigates just who is entitled to the payouts. L H Cleverly, Mt Roskill.
Thank you NZ Herald and delivery services. During the Covid-19 threat levels 3 and 4, my day starts with the reward of opening my rural delivery letterbox with joy to take out the daily issue. This familiar routine during my "incarceration" is now seven days a week. Beth Gordon, Thames.
If schools are reopening next week, wouldn't it make sense to test all teachers for Covid-19 before they go back to work? Jeremy Hall, Hauraki.
Look around you Auckland Council, at what real business world managers are now doing for their customers. Pull your heads in, cut back non-essentials and overheads and get real. David Cooper, Orewa.
The estimated cost of the Northern Skypath has increased fivefold in less than two years. At $360 million, it surely can't go ahead? Post Covid–19, we are even less able to afford it. Estelle Martin, Point Wells.