Home' The Wellingtonian : November 17th 2011 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, NOVEMBER 17, 2011
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Campaign from a parallel universe
At this point, many people
will be thanking their
lucky stars the Rugby
World Cup prevented this election
campaign from being any longer.
If one week can be a lifetime in
politics, a one-month election
contest can seem like a lifetime for
This campaign has also felt like
something of a throwback to an
era pre-dating even the Oppo-
sition rout in 2002.
Heading towards the final week
of the campaign, there is an
incumbent Government within
reach of absolute power, while
media coverage has focussed on a
couple of electorates -- Epsom,
Ohariu -- where deals have been
done to swing the overall result.
All things considered, this cam-
paign has felt very much like a
First Past The Post contest.
In addition, much of the cam-
paign has seemed deliberately
divorced from current concerns.
Instead of dealing with the con-
ditions that voters are facing now,
politicians have been haggling
over how best to pay for outcomes
that are years in the future.
As a result, the economic
arguments during the campaign
have largely been focused on the
outcomes for the financial year
2014-15 -- and on whose set of
will get the
Government's books back in sur-
plus by then, within sustainable
levels of overseas borrowing.
There has been little talk about
how to alleviate the current con-
ditions of hardship, apart from
Labour's controversial plans to
take GST off fresh fruit and
Owing to the fixation with bal-
ancing the budget some time in
the future, the campaign dialogue
has been taken up with argu-
ments about spending cuts,
borrowing and deficit reduction --
and not about creating jobs, tax
fairness, or how we might best go
about getting families out of
The focus of the debate during
this campaign has been so narrow
that a major Radio New Zealand
Insight investigation into poverty
in New Zealand -- broadcast a fort-
night ago -- felt like a report from
a parallel universe.
Third World diseases, such as
rheumatic fever, are running rife
among some New Zealand chil-
dren at 14 times the OECD aver-
age. Yet does anyone seriously
think that John Key and Phil Goff
have any clues about how to turn
that situation around?
Similarly, the election outcome
is unlikely to create more job
opportunities for even half of the
58,000 youth now unemployed in
Nor is there any likelihood of
immediate relief in the socio-
economic burden of student debt
that keeps piling up -- partly
because successive governments
have found it more important to
fund motorways than to invest
adequately in tertiary education.
Thus far, the only people pub-
licly debating the social impact of
income inequality seem to have
been the Occupy movement.
During recent weeks, their
encampments have also become
engaged with providing frontline
help for some of the victims of
inequality: the mentally troubled,
the alcoholic, and the homeless.
This gulf between the country's
problems and the political
solutions on offer may go some
way towards explaining why so
many young people didn't bother
to enrol to vote this year.
To them, the election campaign
may well look like one of the
escapist reality shows on tele-
vision -- where people get voted in
and out of Parliament, but with
little or no connection to the
everyday lives of the viewers.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CONTINUED
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Ronald Smythe raises some good
questions which deserve replies.
People who cycle already pay
taxes and rates. Most also drive
and pay fuel taxes.
Road funding pays for damage
caused by cars and trucks. Cycles
generate negligible impact on
Land transport funds are not a
user pays system. They are used
in the most effective way to reduce
congestion, improve safety, and so
on.In that respect, providing better
provision for cycling is far more
cost-effective than spending it on
additional road capacity.
Most cyclists already pay ACC
work levies through their pay
packets and ACC non-work levies
We have an epidemic of obesity,
not cycling injuries. More people
cycling reduces overall health
Mr Smythe suggests cyclists
should be registered and licensed.
With more than a million people
cycling regularly, the
administrative costs of such a
system would be high for
relatively little gain.
We want to encourage greater
use of healthy activities like
cycling, so any moves to make it
harder to do so need to be
A licensing regime for motor
vehicles is critical as drivers are
responsible for operating
potentially lethal objects.
This is quite different to the
risks imposed to society by using a
lightweight bicycle. Similarly,
licensing pedestrians would make
The message is simple: we all
win when more people cycle. It's
healthy, low-cost, and loads of fun.
Cycling Advocates Network
pay their way
Mr Smythe suggests that a
system be introduced to make
cyclists pay their way.
National bicycle registration
was proposed by the Minister for
Transport, Bob Semple -- in 1936.
The idea was shelved and has not
really been considered since.
Roads are funded through
council rates, general taxes and
petrol tax. Cyclists, like everyone
who owns or rents property,
contribute to rates. Cyclists also
pay general taxes, including ACC
and petrol tax.
It is also worth noting that
cyclists and walkers cause far less
wear and tear on roads than cars
and trucks. Perhaps they pay
more than their fair share?
Stay away from
shark fin soup
I am glad that Emma Beer and
her companions did not choose
shark fin soup on their visit to
Majestic Cuisine (November 10).
It is not just a matter of eating
outside their comfort zone. Shark
populations have declined by as
much as 90 per cent, largely
because of the demand for shark
fin soup. Sharks -- even in New
Zealand waters -- are stripped of
their fins for this delicacy.
Unfortunately it is still legal
here to practise finning -- catching
the shark, cutting off its fins, and
putting it back in the water.
Sharks have made it through
multiple mass extinctions on our
planet and now many species are
going to go the way of the
dinosaur -- for a bowl of soup.
Dear councillors, I hope you
respond to my letter that The
Have your officers failed to
draw your attention to the
council's promise of May 10, 1999,
to local residents regarding the
site? If so I am certain that I can
arrange for you to have a copy
before you respond.
In the meantime I record that
the more than two-month delay in
producing the minutes of the
September 8, 2011, strategy and
policy committee (where I
employed Francis Cooke QC to
speak on my behalf) is absolutely
unacceptable. MICHAEL GIBSON
American stance on
If seeking statehood through the
United Nations by Palestinians is
irrelevant to the resolution of the
why is President Obama and his
administration leaning so heavily
on President Abbas and the
Security Council not to seek
Everybody knows that Israelis
and Palestinians have done and
continue to do unconscionable
things to one another in the name
of defence and self-determination.
However, without the
extraordinary military, financial
and political support that the US
provides, Israel would quickly
come to a mutually good enough''
accommodation with Palestinians.
This would likely be a twin-
state arrangement, brokered,
guaranteed and financed by the
When Palestine attains
recognition of statehood, the axis
of power and control will shift
away from the US and Israel.
Instead, members of the
General Assembly (ie, the rest of
us) will be better placed to
influence an environment that
honours Palestinian as well as
Israeli rights and aspirations.
That the Israeli and American
administrations are not actively
positioning themselves for this
inevitability indicates why, left to
their own devices, they lack the
moral authority and political nous
to resolve this wicked problem''.
Another failure of Intelligence.
Wgtn Central Electorate:
Authorized by Tom Dowie, 1427 Leeston Road, Doyleston, Canterbury.
• Tax the top 1% more, ordinary people less
• Abolish GST, tax financial transactions instead
• Free, high quality education and healthcare
• Full employment, $17 minimum wage
• Fair trade not free trade; undo privatisation
• Protect human rights and the environment
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