Taking a stand
Now that the Chinese leadership has imposed its draconian security law upon Hong Kong, the year-long Hong Kong protests seem to have come to an abrupt end.
The security law has resulted in wide-ranging powers, including extraterritorial jurisdiction to anybody, anywhere in the world. It has resulted in numerous arrests already. Our Government was right to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
The Communist Party of China has shut down every newspaper and website that is critical of its rule. It monitors its people. It does not let them think freely or speak freely. Many citizens of Hong Kong did not want to be ruled by the Communist Party of China and yet, effectively, Britain handed them back like sheep in a truck headed to the freezing works.
New Zealand needs to step up and offer Hong Kong descendants at risk of prosecution, residency in New Zealand.
The trading partnership between China and New Zealand should be overlaid with attempts to push China towards civil and human rights for its people and those of Hong Kong.
This is about New Zealand taking a stand on our values and the sort of governments we form partnerships with.
Deborah Chambers, QC, Remuera.
Hong Kong context
Looking at the ethnicities of Hong Kong, 92 per cent are Chinese. Hong Kong is undisputedly part of China.
US President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pressure British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to return the island to China as a concession for its support in the war, but Churchill refused.
Hong Kong was run as a colony, without democracy, for most of its 100 years as a special status trading outpost.
When nearing the end of the lease agreement, Britain started to promote democracy in Hong Kong.
The 18th and 19th century history of Western relations with China was dominated by violence and extortion from the side of the West, culminating in the Opium Wars where highly profitable drug smuggling was militarily upheld and supported by Britain against the will of the Chinese.
There was nothing honourable in the way concessions were forced out of China for the benefit of Britain and other nations.
It is good to keep these historical facts in mind when considering the justification for condemning China for its endeavours to maintain order in Hong Kong.
Frank Olsson, Freemans Bay.
When travelling on an Auckland Transport bus, there were two encounters with people wishing to pay by cash.
A young lady had a Hop card with no credits so she asked to pay by cash and top up the card when she got to the New Lynn AT service centre. The driver advised company policy would not allow cash. An argument became quite heated before the lady left the bus.
Three stops further on an older lady entered the bus, also requesting to pay by cash. Again this was refused. Another passenger offered to use his card but apparently it could not be done. After some discussion, the lady was allowed to travel free.
We can understand that when New Zealand was under lockdown 4, 3, and 2 there was strict social distancing; under level 1 all restrictions were removed. There appears to be no reason AT continues to refuse cash.
Restricting access to AT buses to passengers with Hop Cards is a great saving in not having to pay for collecting, reconciling cash against tickets and bankings but it excludes anybody who does not have a Hop Card with credits. Very poor for an essential service.
Brian Alderson, Glen Eden.
Auckland Transport response
Cash tickets are still available, you can buy them at Customer Service Centres, ticket machines and HOP retailers.
For now, we will continue to only accept AT HOP card payments. This is not about operational cost savings but to help us support contact-tracing requirements set up by the NZTA and the Ministry of Health.
We are still encouraging the use of public transport and bus operators are continuing to educate customers on where and how they can use cash on the network. Young customers and seniors will not be denied service if they only have cash fare, but will be encouraged to get an AT HOP card, which provides savings of at least 25 per cent.
If customers need assistance in obtaining or loading an AT HOP card, they can visit a customer service centre or call 09 355 3553.
Stacey van der Putten, group manager of metro services.
Doug Sellman's comment comparing and contrasting alcohol and cannabis safety (NZ Herald, July 28) makes one think seriously about all those alcoholics denied a safer legal recreational drug.
Is it time to toughen alcohol laws? Advertising cannabis will be highly restrictive but alcohol advertising is ubiquitous. If alcohol is more dangerous in a majority of 9 out of 13 factors ( some much more important than others) why do 18-year-olds get the choice to buy it? The alcohol industry must be nervous that a safer alternative could soon be legal and the possibility of more restrictive legislation on alcohol a necessity.
Given Sellman's warnings, it would be fascinating to know how he, having extensively researched this, would vote?
Perhaps his objective is just that: it is time to think objectively based on research about drug laws based on our failure with alcohol legislation to minimise harm especially to others, but allow freedom of choice.
Steve Russell, Hillcrest.
Thank you for your article by professor Doug Sellman reminding us of how cannabis is much less of a health concern than New Zealand's favourite drug; alcohol.
The extremely high cost of cannabis prohibition is also a factor to be considered. It has been hugely damaging to treat cannabis users as criminals.
Our punitive, misguided, outdated cannabis prohibition has not in any way been effective. Voting "yes" in the upcoming cannabis referendum is a smart and compassionate step in the right direction.
Victoria Davis, Tākaka.
Interesting article comparing the safety of cannabis with that of alcohol, but the cannabis debate shouldn't be about safety. It should be about overall harm reduction.
A 50-year war on drugs has caused far more harm than the drugs themselves. The only beneficiaries have been gangs.
It might make us feel righteous and wholesome to vote against legalising a recreational drug, but it achieves nothing. Those who take drugs (such as smokers) don't care about the opinions of those who do not. They also don't care if the drugs are legal or not.
The people who probably care most about the outcome of the cannabis vote are the criminals. They hope for a resounding "no" so they can continue to get rich on a tax-free income.
Meanwhile, the rest of us pay taxes so helicopters can search for cannabis plantations, destroying some but having zero impact on supply. And Maori are disproportionally prosecuted for simply wanting to relax and enjoy themselves.
It's such an unintelligent policy.
Chris Elias, Mission Bay
Jacindamania continues to rule, and looks likely to dominate on September 19.
Ardern's popularity remains as stratospheric as her pal and Vogue accomplice Meghan Markle's was a couple of years ago - when a microphone was granted to Markle at NZ's Government House, for her to address our nation on how we should live.
Both women incessantly exploit social media to vociferously promote their personal brands, both have preached environmentalism, whilst boosting aviation's carbon footprint, and both belong to elites but purport to represent the underdog.
Leadership or celebrityism?
J M Livingstone, Ōrākei.
Marilyn Waring is spot-on (NZ Herald, July 29) describing ways of ensuring that expertise provided by public policy experts exists for the next generation.
Moana Maniapoto recently asked activist, feminist, and scholar Angela Davis about the greatest gift a student could receive from a public intellectual. Her response was: "I think it's very important for teachers, professors, public intellectuals to participate in the process of educating the public. And when I say educating, I'm not talking about simply giving them facts. I'm not talking about giving them information or telling them where the information can be found. I'm talking about helping people to learn how to engage in a deep process of questioning.
"I'm talking about critical engagement with the realities that surround us. How do we encourage people not to take anything for granted, and to also question that which we frequently assume is unquestionable."
Robust debate, based on sound, trustworthy research has proved invaluable during our Covid-19 experience in Aotearoa. There's no better time than now to invest educating nascent experts for the next crisis.
Janfrie Wakim, Epsom.
Every election cycle will throw up a number of very bad ideas masquerading as policy.
National's idea of allowing KiwiSaver to be used for business startups for the unemployed is a prime example.
Given that 20 per cent of SMEs fail in the first two years, 53 per cent fail by five years and only 9 per cent survive to 10 years, the best this policy may achieve is a boom time for receivers and liquidators.
Peter Holland, One Tree Hill.
Letters: Leadership, quarantine fees, Auckland Council, recovery priorities and electricity
Letters: Wealth tax, moonlighting nurses, roads spend, Phil Goff and Motuihe Island
Short & sweet
Could anybody tell me why, after many experts in the hydro field suggested that the Lake Onslow dam idea was seriously flawed, the Government is proposing to spend $30 million on a "consultation or report". Anthony Browne, Birkdale.
Labour's proposal to pump water uphill sounds a bit like pushing the proverbial uphill.
A J Petersen, Kawerau.
Naturally all the returning Kiwis who left with student loans will be enthusiastically looking forward to repaying them. James Gregory, Parnell.
Labour's proposal for charging people in quarantine is a cop-out. Returning Kiwis who have chosen to live abroad for period of time should also be charged. Steve Porter, Tauranga.
RIP Andy Haden. Thank you for the memories, thank you for your wonderful performances for New Zealand and Auckland. Kent Millar, Blockhouse Bay.
May I suggest a large notice, with the following sentence, be placed in every sports' changing rooms: The referee is always right, even when they are wrong. A. Bowman, Whangārei.
If China wishes to signal displeasure with the suspension of our extradition treaty with Hong Kong, may I suggest they do so by removing all their water bottling plants from New Zealand? Doug Hannan, Mt Maunganui.
Until such time that all New Zealanders have an affordable home, no well-to-do American dreamer should be granted the comfort of our Covid-free environment. It is up to them to rectify their much-vaunted but dysfunctional democracy first. Luit Bieringa, Wellington.