Ardern has to listen to wiser heads

I admire Jacinda Ardern's rise to leadership of the Labour Party. She is a breath of fresh air indeed, bright, articulate and charming. Optimism is a fine quality but needs to be tempered with a healthy dose of realism. The new slogan of "Let's do it" is catchy but I dare to ask, what we are we to do?

Charles Dickens' portrayal of Mr Micawber in David Copperfield comes to mind. He, too, had relentless optimism. Mr Micawber's financial situation was tenuous but he firmly believed that "something will turn up". I hope and pray that Jacinda is open to advice from her more senior party members who have more life experience and political knowledge. We live in a fine country with sound economic management and we need to ensure a stable future.

Brigid Tarrant, Green Bay.

Shortsighted

Labour's intention to scale down the east-west link between the southwestern and southern motorways to help pay for light rail to the airport is shortsighted.

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There is already significant congestion in this area of Penrose and particularly around Neilson and Church Sts with hundreds of very large trucks slowly moving through this very important industrial area every day, causing long delays. As our economy grows this will only get worse. This link is urgently needed to free up traffic flows in the area, reduce costs and reduce pollution.

Ken Graham, Greenlane.

Flushed out

Wow, is there no limit to new Labour leader Jacinda Adern's powers? The unfamiliar sight of Rip-Van-Winkle Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman on the front page of yesterday's Herald was a shock. In this week's conclusion of the Herald's Break the Silence campaign, Coleman has finally responded to four months of repeated requests for an interview on the issues of youth suicide.

Apparently these requests resulted in nothing more than typed responses from his press secretary. But suddenly, there he was yesterday, ready to speak, just a few days after the explosion of the Jacinda phenomenon.

On reflection, it is perhaps more likely the Jacinda effect persuaded Bill English to finally put the hard word on Coleman to face up to his responsibilities on the deeply troubling issues of youth suicide. Whatever, let us hope we now hear of some serious plans for change in the mental health system.

M. Carol Scott, Birkenhead.

Double whammy

In the Weekend Herald John Roughan said Jacinda Ardern made the mistake of "spinning" the debate about her readiness to be Prime Minister around gender, when really it was all about age. He was wrong - it is about gender intersecting with age. Jacinda is experiencing "intersectionality", the double whammy of being, simultaneously, the "wrong" age and the "wrong" gender.

Intersectionality was a term coined by black civil right activist and lawyer Kimberley Crenshaw in 1989, when she campaigned against the discrimination meted out to black women locked out of the clerical jobs reserved for white women as well as the manual jobs reserved for black men.

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In Jacinda's case it is not just age - after all, David Lange became Prime Minister at 41 years old. It is the fact that she is a particular age - old enough to bear children - intersecting with her gender (the potential to bear children) that has caused the unedifying furor of a potential Prime Minister being defined and limited by New Zealand's gendered assumptions that a woman's primary role is to be a mother.

Step up to the plate New Zealand, and join the 21st century, commit to equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of age, race, gender or any other category of socially ascribed difference.Shelagh Mooney, gender and diversity research group, AUT.

Expensive projects

The Labour Party's transport policy includes two very expensive projects - trams (the old fashioned work for "light rail") to the airport and the North Shore. These are multibillion-dollar spend-ups that even when finished will involve considerable ongoing subsidies from ratepayers, taxpayers or motorists.

At the very least we should be given the business cases for what looks suspiciously like an election bribe. Such cases would give details of capital cost, projected patronage, operational expenses and the cost of ongoing subsidies. One assumes, of course, that such business cases exist. I mean, they wouldn't propose these costly policies without that sort of analysis, would they?

One thing I am certain of is that no private investor would want a bar of them. Not only would they never make money, they won't come within a country mile of covering their costs.

A prior question is whether we need them at all. This morning, Monday, I left the airport drop-off zone at 7.42am. I was in Queen St exactly 30 minutes later at 8.12. This was at peak traffic time with a studious observance of that ridiculous 80km/h speed limit for most of the journey, and this before the Kirkbride Rd improvements are completed.

The return trip was even faster at 28 minutes.

I estimate the marginal cost of my 44km return journey at under $7, and that without any subsidy. A tram trip would be much more costly and I suspect much slower.

As for the North Shore proposal, surely a tram line merely duplicates the existing Northern Busway in practical operational terms. The busway, unlike fixed-line trams, has considerable flexibility in pick-up and drop-off points and the routes between them. The present Government's position, correctly, is to wait and see if growing traffic volumes and slowing transit times make a case for additional modes of transport on these corridors before committing huge sums of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

David Morris, Hillsborough.

Puhinui link

I would like to know why this Government and the Auckland Council do not look at the airport train system used in Singapore. The train travels from Tanamera Station into Changi Airport, to all of the terminals, on one track in and out, terminating at Tanamera Station where you change to a city-bound train.

This system could be used from Puhinui station, which is on the southern line to Britomart and south, also connecting with eastern trains at Otahuhu. Access would go along Puhinui Rd into the airport and around all of the terminals and return to Puhinui. As the airport company owns most of this land and it is mostly farmland, you would not need to buy people's houses.

This would also cost a lot less as we would not need to build a bridge across the Manukau Harbour and could be started much sooner. Also, this would not make main roads like Dominion Rd narrower to make room for the trams.

John Laing, Drury.

Studying law at the time

The apologists for Ms Turei seem to have overlooked that at the time she knowingly lied twice she was a law student, thus not only committing crimes but violating the code of ethics of the profession she aspired to. Were this information available at the time of her application to be admitted to the profession, it is problematic whether she would have obtained the necessary certificate of character from the Law Society. What is even more troubling is that the political party of moral outrage is keeping her as a leader.

Ericson List, Whitford.

Life on a benefit

I find all of the sanctimonious political venom being heaped on Turei very sick-making and hypocritical, especially when it comes from the likes of former governmental department big-spender Christine Rankin and not least our Prime Minister. Yes, he who can remember what he needs to forget, until he is forced by circumstance to remember some of what he thought he forgot.

I do not know the full story about Turei but through many years of former experience in the police, I do know that for many of today's welfare beneficiaries it is a dangerous world to live in, especially, but not exclusively when sharing joint accommodation. If you name the father you get the bash. If you don't give most of your money to your "flatmates" you get the bash. If you don't turn a blind eye or assist those around you doing drugs you get the bash. If you refuse to lie to Winz to get more money for "your associates" you get thebash.

Of course, if you get caught out by the system itself, you get "the bash" again. Apparently we have a problem with youth suicide. I can't imagine why, can you?

Dennis Pennefather, Te Awamutu.