Letters: Auckland rate increase, bikes on bridge, vaping and leadership

Auckland's 5% rate rise should be challenged

In response to Julie Fairey and other Auckland Council Local Board Chairs criticism of me for failing to support a 5 per cent rate increase for Auckland, I challenge their somewhat patronising assertion that I do not seem to understand that necessary investment in Auckland, which I do support, has to be paid for.
At the commencement of the Long-Term Plan (LTP) process, I requested that council undertake a comprehensive and courageous view of its own balance sheet for the purpose of using it more effectively to help fund the necessary infrastructure to support the roll out of the Auckland Unitary Plan. Further, I consistently and have painstakingly pushed for more effective cross-party advocacy to Central Government to amend legislation to allow for some of the long overdue tools for Auckland like congestion charging and tourism taxes. These suggestions were rebuffed by Auckland’s Mayor at the very time we should have been setting a more enabling brief around an ambitious LTP.
You must appreciate the power of the mayor in Auckland is unlike any other in New Zealand. Once elected he/she has the sole responsibility for all council committee structures, delegations, appointments of chairs and deputies and memberships. No-one wants to displease the leader and in some ways you could liken it to an old-fashioned court which the mayor of the day presides over. The LTP is the Mayoral proposal.
Over 150 plus hours of confidential workshops were held. Chairs of Local Boards, who are not responsible for the setting of rates, attended some but not all. They expressed a preference for a cost-plus approach to rate increases on the assumption that the long-suffering ratepayer would simply pick up the tab rather than dealing with the more difficult and vexatious issue of a lazy balance sheet. This unhappy situation should not go uncontested.
Councillor Christine Fletcher, Auckland

Bikes on bridge
An interim solution for bikes crossing the harbour bridge is to have a fleet of electric people movers with capacity for say 10 passengers, and towing a trailer with hooks for10 bikes.
There could be pick up points at Pt Erin baths on the Auckland side, and Stafford Rd on the North Shore side.
To make it (partially) self funded passengers could tag on and tag off using the Hop card. This would be an inexpensive way to gauge the demand for this service. It would also be available during strong winds when cycling over the bridge would not be possible.
Alan Warren, Taupō.

Poor taste movie
America does everything supersized, including its capacity for hubris, and making a movie about the mosque massacre in Christchurch sets a new standard in poor taste. A country where 2nd Amendment rights usurp an individual’s right not to be slaughtered because someone can express their hatred through a semi-automatic weapon, isn’t an appropriate arbiteron gun violence.
There should be twonon-negotiable caveats in order for this movie to proceed. 1) the survivors must have complete editorial control of the content, and 2) all profits to go directly to the victim’s families. Hmmm. I just saw a pig fly by.
Mary Hearn, Glendowie.

Out of frying pan …
Vaping has resolved nothing. It has replaced one problem with a new nightmare.
John Ford, Taradale.

Smoke and mirrors
The cycle bridge announcement achieves two things. Firstly, distracting the media from the Government’s perpetualbungling of the vaccine programme. Secondly, it enables the Government to redirect nearly a billion dollars of transport spending, such as the Mill Rd upgrade, to the cycle bridge and then, in many months, dropping the bridge insanity without reinstating the cancelled projects. Awesome!
Stewart Hawkins, St Heliers.

Booking bungle
It is little wonder that the Auckland vaccination level is so low. Try to make a booking online — good luck. The times and days shown as available, aren’t. None of them for the next 2-3 weeks. Don’t bother trying to phone the help line during the week. I did get through quite quickly on Saturday afternoon, but it still took a very pleasant and helpful woman over 30 minutes to work through the three booking systems the Ministry of Health has chosen to use in Auckland.
I cannot imagine the frustration of Ashley Bloomfield having to deal with the ongoing incompetence of his Ministry with their failure to ensure border testings, incompetent MIQ controls allowing new people arriving at facilities, within a few metres of positive cases, deciding that first responders and teachers do not need vaccinations, and the impossibility of making or changing an online booking.
Apparently, the rest of NZ is working with a new system which allows fast and easy bookings, but not Auckland.
Mr B, if you want us to get vaccinated, make it easy and quick for us to get into the system.
Bill Milnes, Clover Park.

Snuggling the Greens
The announcement of the new bridge for cyclists and pedestrianswas an opportunity for the Government to snuggle up to the Greens because they might be needed come the next election.
And who were the politicians present on the day when the protesters rode across the bridge ? The Greens !
Neil Jenkins, Mt Eden.

No vaping logic
Various governments have over the past decades endeavoured to reduce tobacco smoking yet they have allowed vapingto be legalised. Where is the logic in swapping one form of smoking for another addictive form?
Now it is impacting during school hours with some students unable to get through the school day without a nicotine fix. There was no research about the harm that vaping causes before legalising it. In another couple of decades will we discover the same disastrous health results as we have seen with tobacco?
Marie Kaire, Whangārei.

Far-sighted comfort
On seeing the gentle beauty of the proposed walking/biking bridge for Auckland I thought what a kind and far- sighted decision that was. Someone, I thought, has considered how much we are going to need comfort in the years ahead as we strugglebattling climate change. I saw myself and others walking the path, sitting on the thoughtful viewing steps looking out at the view, feeling calm and being reminded of how important nature is to our existence. What was I thinking?
Emma Mackintosh, Birkenhead.

Test of leadership

Jacinda Ardern’s leadership is said to be the central focus of the proposed film, They Are Us, to be produced about the Christchurch massacre. This thinly-veiled focus is an excuse to sensationalise and monetise the extensive and continuing misery this mindless act of violence perpetuated, for New Zealanders, especially for the Muslim community.

Jacinda Ardern is in the unique position of influence to send a loud and clear message to the world that this film, if it goes ahead, will be banned in New Zealand as well as do everything in her power to have this production stopped. Her credibility, leadership and compassion will be tested by how she responds to this travesty.The level of insensitivity displayed by the producers of the film is hard to comprehend.

Rita Riccola, Albany.

No-wind power
Jamie Gray (June 11) writes of “steep falls in the cost of renewables electricity generation”.
To me, that means lower market power prices and charges for home consumers.Doesn’t it?
He also quotes Granville Gaskell of NZ Wind Energy Assn, that “all roads lead to wind” and that “wind is well-suited to NZ’s electricity demand.”
That same day, the Energy Market Overview website showed virtually no significant wind power generation recorded over the previous 24 and more hours. Does this not reinforce the message that back-up is required for wind, which adds to the final cost?
Nick Nicholas, Greenlane.

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